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Feb-2018
13
Researchers Discover ‘Anxiety Cells’ In The Brain
Research
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National Public Radio

Jon Hamilton

January 31, 2018

 

Scientists have found specialized brain cells in mice that appear to control anxiety levels.

The finding, reported Wednesday in the journal Neuron, could eventually lead to better treatments for anxiety disorders, which affect nearly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.

"The therapies we have now have significant drawbacks," says Mazen Kheirbek, an assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco and an author of the study. "This is another target that we can try to move the field forward for finding new therapies."

But the research is at an early stage and lab findings in animals don't always pan out in humans.

The discovery of anxiety cells is just the latest example of the "tremendous progress" scientists have made toward understanding how anxiety works in the brain, says Joshua Gordon, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, which helped fund the research.

"If we can learn enough, we can develop the tools to turn on and off the key players that regulate anxiety in people," Gordon says.

Anxiety disorders involve excessive worry that doesn't go away. These disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and social anxiety disorder.

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