An evolutionary relationship that may lead to treatments for depression and anxiety
A study by Drs. Tamar Lotan and Shani Levy (Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences) and Dr. Mickey Kosloff (Department of Human Biology) has discovered surprising evolutionary similarities in the functioning of the human nervous system and that of the sea anemone.
The research found that the neurotransmitter GABA, which regulates the preliminary development of the nervous system in mammals, and particularly in humans, follows a similar regulatory process by a receptor from the family in the sea anemone Nematostella GABABR vectensis. This unexpected relationship not only opens new avenues for basic research in neuronal development and evolution, it also offers new possibilities for pharmacological research aimed at finding new drugs for human ailments such as depression and anxiety.
Nature Ecology and Evolution, the premiere journal in ecology, evolution, and related fields, published the paper describing these findings.