Researchers look inside the brain itself to treat depression

Major depressive disorder is the most common mental illness, yet treatment options continue to have high rates of relapse and negative side effects. Researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia are looking directly at the brain to fine-tune specific neurological circuits, essentially “fixing” depression inside the brain itself.

Preclinical trials found that stimulating the Ent-hippocampus pathway has an anti-depressive response in mice. The human correlation in the animal model is representative of a child's brain. The study will continue under first author Sunghee Yun, who will explore circuit-based controlled stimulation on a range of psychiatric disorders. Yun was inspired by scientific evidence that entorhinal cortex (Ent) stimulation improves learning and memory. Since memory and mood regulation both reside in the hippocampus, Yun was inspired to test her hypothesis at CHOP Research Institute Laboratory, with neurobiology researcher Amelia Eisch, a professor of anesthesiology and critical care at the Perelman School of Medicine

“Many neuroscientists are looking at which brain regions are disturbed during depression,” Yun says. “The hippocampus is known as a memory circuit. But we wanted to target how this memory circuit may improve mood regulation, as well.”

Read the full story in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute blog