It’s a well-known messenger in the brain: a neurotransmitter dubbed GABA that mellows us out. Drug developers have been tinkering with it for decades, and they’ve scored some big hits, notably Xanax and Valium.
Now, they’re reaching for even bigger targets. A flurry of startups are working to target the GABA pathway with more precision than ever before, hoping to come up with medications that can treat a range of neurological disorders and mental illnesses.
It’s all early stage, far from ready for prime time — and at least one much-touted GABA project has flopped — but scientists express hope that tinkering with the GABA pathway could potentially increase IQ in people with Down syndrome, improve cognition in patients with Alzheimer’s, and offer quick relief to women struggling with postpartum depression. Such drugs might even treat autism.
Click here to read the full article by Meghana Keshavan, STAT News.