The Perks of Hydro-Powered Dams

Image of dam

Is it possible to have a dam that contributes to the socioeconomic and energy needs of a community without degrading the surrounding environment?

Researchers from Arizona State University found the answer to this question. They wanted to observe how dams would impact the food security among communities around the Mekong River. Many of these communities rely on the river for their food source and employment. Nutritionally, rural fishing and agricultural communities receive animal protein and vitamin A from the river too. From their study, Results indicate that a design flow that mimics long inter-flood interval and short, strong flood pulses produced higher fish yields than from natural flow restoration. Their results are an extension of previous studies that linked the flood magnitude, duration, and a low period followed by short, strong flood pulses leaded to higher yields in fisheries.

Sabo and his co-authors based their study on the rivers in Lower Mekong Basin. The Mekong River is the twelfth largest in the world, estimating 4350 kilometers in length. It is also the eight largest river that discharges and hosts one of the largest inland fisheries in the world. The river goes through China, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam.

Due to its large presence across transnational boundaries, it has attracted hydro-power development. According to the researchers, hydropower is a common source of energy for poor, predominantly rural populations. Despite its alternative benefits as a renewable energy, the process could have negative impacts on the environment. For instance, hydrologic alteration from dams could lead to invasion of non-native aquatic species, which would impact the food web structure.

To analyze the relationship between food security and dams, the researchers evaluated the discharges on the Tonle Sap River that connects the Mekong River to the Tonle Sap Lake . The Dai fishery is located on this river too. The Dai fishery has a nursery habitat that houses approximately 300 fish species. In addition to the biodiversity, the fishery is the most valuable and productive (i.e. number of fish caught) in the Lower Mekong Basin according to the researchers.

Based on their results, designed flows had a 76% annual increases in yield compared to 47% in annual yield in natural flow restoration along the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers.  Designed flows are based on models on flood pulse extent, based on flood magnitude and duration, and net annual anomaly, based on the sum of all positive (wetness) and negative (dryness) anomalies to detail annual discharges. Natural flow is based on the conditions of the water before the installation of dams. Currently, there are projected dams in China, Laos, and Cambodia that would allow water managers to control the flow of the river. This study suggests designed flows prompts higher yields, which would encourage more projects to make dams to insure food security. Below is an image of the proposed dams  by the researchers that support the designed-flow model recommended by them.

Image of Lower Mekong Basin
Proposed Dams in Lower Mekong Basin

Source:

Sabo J.L., Ruhi, A., Holtgrieve, G.W., Elliott, V., Arias, M.E., Bun Ngor, P., Rasanen, T.A., Nam, S. 2017. Designing river flows to improve foo security futures in the Lower Mekong Basin. Science 358: 1053.

Liquid Biopsy, Detecting Cancer DNA Before Tumors

A new blood test is capable of identifying genetic markers for eight major types of cancer. Though it only correctly identified cancer 70% of the time, this so-called “liquid biopsy” is a minimally invasive way to screen for cancer when no symptoms are present. It is at this stage cancer is at its most treatable, and at $500 costs no more than a colonoscopy, mammogram, or other cancer screenings.

 

The importance of such a test cannot be overstated in the fight against cancer. Insidious cancer cells can essentially lie dormant for 20-30 years before they grow into large, spread out masses that are difficult or impossible to eradicate. By identifying the cancer in its nascent stages, it can be usually be readily cured using radiation, surgery, or other common treatments. The difficulty lies in identifying the cancer DNA in patients blood, which is often present in miniscule amounts, and even when identified it can be difficult to trace the tissue of origin.

The eight major cancer types being screened here account for 60%, or 360,000, of all cancer deaths in the US last year, and there is nothing more critical to their effective treatment than an early diagnosis. Though as you can see from the accompanying chart, detectability varies; but this methodology is a work in process with large-scale human trials set to begin soon.

The research comes out of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and has been published in the journal Science. As this research begins large-scale human trials it will be evaluated for its utility in hospitals and doctors offices. The hope is that the principles underlying this methodology can be expanded to identify more types of cancer, and with greater accuracy. We may never be able to cure late stage cancer, and the treatments are often ghastly; but if the disease can be identified before it even forms tumors, the cancer can very likely be cured.

 

Cohen JD, Li L, Wang Y, Thoburn C, Afsari B, et. al. (2018) Detection and localization of surgically resectable cancers with a multi-analyte blood test. Science. 359(6378): 926-930

 

Molecular markers identified for autism, schizophrenia, and depression

Some psychological disorders, such as schizophrenia, tend to be highly heritable, meaning that the disorder is often passed down generationally within a family. Schizophrenia, for instance, is 60-87% heritable; if you were to have schizophrenia, there’s a 60-87% chance that one of your immediate relatives will develop symptoms, too. Similarly, major depressive disorder is 30-40% heritable. Therefore, in order to treat these disorders, its necessary to look at the genes involved. A February 2018 study published in Science found that there is significant overlap in gene expression between autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, as well as an overlap between schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression. The strongest relationship was between schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder.

Consider gene expression as a construction company. A construction company has a stockpile of materials: concrete, glass, cement, wood, nails, etc. The company has a crew of workers, and the crew is capable of building a variety of houses and apartment buildings. The construction company is analogous to the use of DNA by cells in the brain. The DNA is like the stockpile of materials. The materials are required to build anything, but the possible combinations of materials are endless. The RNA transcription mechanism in the cells is like the crew. The crew chooses which materials to use, and determines how much of each item is necessary for the project. In cells, this system is called “gene expression.” Every cell in the brain has the same DNA, or the same starting materials, but each cell has a different construction crew that decides to use the materials slightly differently; some build houses, some build apartment buildings, some build garages.

Instead of examining the DNA, or the building materials in over 700 cadaver brain samples used in the study, the researchers looked at the gene products, or what the construction crews built. It is unknown whether the gene products found in the brains caused the disorder symptoms, or gradually developed throughout life as the consequence of the disorders. But the study provides useful information regarding what proteins and structural factors manifest in disordered brains, and this information can be used to trace back to an origin point. Director of the UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment, and author of the study Daniel Geschwind said, “These findings provide a molecular, pathological signature of these disorders, which is a large step forward.”

The scientists found biological markers that tend to distinguish a brain with autism, for example, from the average brain. In the case of autism spectrum disorder, the study reported an increased activation of the CD11 gene, while another gene called CD2 was especially active in the brains suffering from depression. Additionally, the study mapped gene expression commonalities between brains with the same disorder, essentially establishing a molecular blueprint that can be recognized for diagnosis, and treated more effectively at the molecular level.

Sources:

Gandal, M.J., Haney, J.R., Neelroop, N.P., Leppa, V., Ramaswami, G., Hartl, C., Schork, A.J., Appadurai, V., Buil, A., Werge, T.M., Liu, C., White, K.P., CommonMind Consortium, PsychENCODE Consortium, iPSYCH-BOARD Working Group, Horvath, S., & Gerchwind, D.H. 2018. Shared molecular neuropathology across major psychiatric disorders parallels polygenic overlap. Science 359: 693–697.

Hopper, Leigh. 2018. Autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder share molecular traits, study finds. UCLA Newsroom. Retrieved Feb. 26 from http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/autism-schizophrenia-bipolar-disorder-share-molecular-traits-study-finds.

Seidel, D.C., Bulk, C., Stanley, M.A. 2017. Abnormal Psychology: A Scientist-Practitioner Approach (4th Edition). Pearson Education [print].

Could Exercise Reduce the Risk of Lung Cancer?

physical activity

Researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) in Buffalo, New York have linked lifetime physical inactivity with increased lung cancer risk and mortality. This was achieved through investigations and statistical data analysis conducted on patients who received medical services at RCPI. The paper, published in January 2018, included results from 660 lung cancer patients and 1335 cancer-free controls.

Lung cancer is the second most diagnosed and deadly cancer in the USA as of 2018. Among the newly diagnosed cases, 90% are associated with cigarette smoking. The researchers at RCPI found it necessary to identify additional behavioral risks, especially for never-smokers. A medical questionnaire was offered to all patients admitted to the Institute, regardless of diagnosis, to assess the level of lifetime physical activity. Physical inactivity was defined as less than one session of recreational physical activity per week on average. To survey the effects of inactivity on both lung cancer risk and survival, variables like age, sex, smoking (pack years) and body mass index (BMI) were taken into consideration.

Results showed a direct correlation between inactivity and increased lung cancer among patients in all of these subgroups. A similar trend was observed for the overall population. When inactivity was combined with smoking, there was an even greater risk. In addition, the mortality rate of patients also showed a positive relationship to lifetime inactivity. Analysis of the acquired data using a statistical curve showed a survival disadvantage of 170 days for physically inactive individuals compared to active lung cancer patients.

Physical Inactivity is believed to be responsible for impaired immune function, and DNA repair capacity.

Such biological effects could account for the observed increase in lung cancer risk and mortality. Considering the other end of the spectrum, the role of increased physical activity in decreasing lung cancer risk has received valid biological explanations in previous studies. Physical activity is considered to improve lung function and reduce the duration of exposure to cancer causing agents. It has also been known to increase the forced expiratory volume (FEV – the volume of air expelled during one forced breath) which usually decreases among smokers.

This study gives good statistical results to support its conclusions, however, there are a few shortcomings. Despite the clear indication of inactive, the reference group for active individuals is far too broad and shows no differentiation between people with low, moderate and high activity levels. There are also the effects of unmeasured factors like the possibility of active individuals having healthier eating habits incorporated with fruits and vegetables which are known to reduce cancer risk. However, it provides an important area for lung cancer research, especially considering that many self-reported population estimates have suggested that about 50-79% of Americans are insufficiently active.

In the past, targeted exercises for lung cancer patients have shown improvements like reduced sleep disturbance, fatigue, depression, and anxiety levels in addition to a boost in fitness. Inactivity, on the other hand, has been shown to increase the risk of lung cancer and mortality among patients, by this study and further research is of utmost importance. Future studies should consist of randomized trials with higher consideration for other factors related to inactivity and lung cancer that play indirect roles in skewing the results. If these studies further corroborate the above findings, time, effort and funds need to be put into estimating the amount of physical activity required that can be used as potential preventive measures against lung cancer.

Reference: Cannioto, R., et. al. 2018. Lifetime physical inactivity is associated with lung cancer risk and mortality. Cancer Treatment and Research Communications 14: 37-45.

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Ditch the Plastic

A study done in July of 2017 reveals the short life cycle of plastics and our excessive production rates on a global scale. Researchers found that 6.3 million metric tons of plastic waste has been created as of 2015. Of that, only 9% has been recycled and 79% has entered either the landfill or environment. By 2050 the amount of plastic waste to enter the landfill or environment is likely to double. This is alarming because plastic is not biodegradable. However, plastic will break down over hundreds of years into very small pieces. These pieces can contaminate oceans and the natural environment. In fact, somewhere between 4 and 12 million metric tons of plastic entered the ocean in 2010 alone.

The excessive amount of plastics produced globally is used mainly to package goods. The study found that 42% of all non fiber plastics have been used for packaging, primarily composed of PE, PP, and PET. PE, PP, and PET are also known as plastics #2, 5, and 1. Though most plastics can be recycled, they are often not. And even if they are, recycling just delays the amount of time before the plastic ends up in the landfill as waste. As if plastic waste contaminating our lands and oceans isn’t enough, the fossil fuels used to create plastics pollutes our air and contributes to climate change. If we continue to generate as much plastic as we currently do, plastic will account for 20% of all oil production by 2050 (plasticpollutioncoalition.org).

Every year Americans throw away 35 billion plastic bottles (utahrecycles.org), use 380 billion plastic bags (Anderson), and recycle only a small percentage of both. One of the worst daily use plastic items are straws, which 500 million are used a day and often can be found accumulating in oceans (plasticpollutioncoalition.org). This is why society needs to move away from single use items and harmful plastic. The throwaway economy needs to transform into a circular one where goods are reused and re-purposed not used and disposed. To live a sustainable life and reduce the amount of waste generated we can take part in several meaningful actions. These include: using reusable bags when shopping to avoid plastic bag use, investing in a reusable water bottle to save hundreds of plastic bottles from contaminating the environment, not using or buying plastic straws, and purchasing less plastic packaged goods or plastic goods in general. Our everyday actions can make a big difference. Choosing to avoid plastics and encouraging others to do the same, can help bring the mass production of plastics to a halt and save billions of tons of plastic waste from contaminating our environment.

 

Sources: Geyer, R., Jambeck, J.R., and Law, K.L. 2017. Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made. Science Advances 3: 7.

Marcia Anderson. 2016. Confronting Plastic Pollution One Bag at a Time. 

https://utahrecycles.org/get-the-facts/the-facts-plastic/

Plastic Polution Coalition. 2017. Fueling Plastics: New Research Details Fossil Fuel Role in Plastics Proliferation

Photo Source: Flickr user Emilian Robert Vicol

For Better or Worse Rock Glaciers will Eventually Melt Away

As global climate change continually progresses our glaciers continually recede. However, their decreasing volumes differ from one to another. You may never have heard of them, but rock glaciers (RG’s) are the more resilient, mountainous equivalent to typical glaciers. Researchers in the BEIS/Defra Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Program, conducted research regarding these glaciers and created the first ever RGDB (rock glacier database), in an effort to increase knowledge about them and awareness of the impending hydro-logic impacts they soon may have. They were able to pinpoint over 73,000 of them all over the world, many of which were located in the highest and most arid regions of the world, including the Andes and the Himalayas.

As stated earlier rock glaciers are more resilient to low lying glaciers (in regards to global warming).  RG’s are found in high elevation area’s, mainly mountain tops, all around the world. They have an active layer which melts and thaws seasonally, and are characterized as active or inactive glaciers depending on whether or not they have ice beneath it. This active layer is also what helps regulate the glaciers temperature and causes it to be more resilient to temperature changes. However, they aren’t immune. Global warming is predicted to hit higher elevation areas harder then lower lying elevations. At first this will increase flow of rivers and streams within the watershed, but it won’t last for long. As the temperature increases so will melting and eventually the long term future consequence will be the loss of these glaciers.

Glacier and Snow on Mountain
Mountain glacier and snow in New Zealand

Thankfully, the water supply that will eventually come from the melting of these ‘natural water towers’ isn’t just gonna disappear, it’ll be utilized. The meltwater will create a significant water source for arid and semi-arid systems with potential future water scarcity problems.

Apart from the database made, the researchers also estimated the water content that individual rock glaciers hold. The number came to around 83.72 Gigaton each, give or take about 16Gts. That’s a lot of water, especially if used efficiently.

Finally, whether or not individual rock glaciers melt, people in places affected by them wont see huge droughts anytime in the near future, thanks to their resilience to climate change. The only question left is, what happens when they do finally melt away?

Source

Jones D. B, Harrison S., Anderson K., Betts R. A., February 2018. Mountain rock glaciers contain globally significant water sources. Scientific Reports v10 NO 1038: 28-34.

Putting Too Much Heart into Space Exploration? Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer in Astronauts

The effect of space radiation on astronaut health has always been a concern of NASA and its astronauts. With space flight, there are numerous possible health challenges that can occur, but radiation and its effect on cardiovascular disease and cancer is at the top of NASA’s list. The difficulties and costs of space travel make it hard to measure these effects. In spite of these challenges, in 2018 researchers at The University of Texas, National Cancer Institute, NASA Johnson Space Center, and MEI Technologies conducted an observational cohort study of astronauts and found that there was no over exaggerated risk of cancer or cardiovascular disease due to space radiation. However, these results were not completely conclusive and doubts still remain.

The team selected astronauts from 1959 to 1969 and looked at their medical records from birth to death, or 2016, which ever came first. Their data was collected from the Lifetime Surveillance of Astronaut Health program at the NASA Johnson Space Center. The astronauts that were used in the study participated in the Mercury through Space Shuttle programs.  A diverse population was not possible as all astronauts of the time were white males, and some of the included subjects never even flew a space mission.  In total, there were 73 white males (49 living and 34 deceased) that participated in the study.  The health hazards of smoking were not well known at the time, so this group maintained similar smoking patterns as the general U.S. population.  It would be much more difficult to find a single astronaut that smokes today! NASA carefully measures radiation exposure to its astronauts and the total doses ranged from 0 to 74.1 mGy (milligrays). After comparing with the United States white male population, the overall mortality rates of the astronauts that were used in the test fell well below the national average!

Although the researchers found that space radiation doesn’t lead to risk of cancer or cardiovascular disease, they decided that the findings were not conclusive, only because they used such a small sample. It is also possible that the astronauts in the population had a reduced cardiac risk because they were in better physical condition than the average U.S. white male of the time. The researchers want to look more into this topic by using epidemiology data with cell and animal studies to back up their findings on the risk of space radiation.

Link:  https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20170009911.pdf

Elgart, S.R., Little, M. P., Campbell, L. J., Milder, C. M., Shavers, M. R., Huff J. L., Patel, Z. S. Radiation Exposure and Mortality from Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer in Early NASA Astronauts: Space for Exploration. NASA Technical Reports Sever: JSC-CN-40709.

 

How to Reduce the Cost of Renewables?

How do we reduce the cost of renewable energy? Research from the German Institute of Economic Research, commonly known as DWI, evaluated how regulations/policy (as a support system) and risks in financial investments effect the transition to forms of renewable energy like wind powered plants and photovoltaic systems in Germany. In 2014, Germany mandated the use of renewable energies as their main energy instead of optional as it began in 2012. This ruling forced energy companies to invest in renewables. From this, the authors wanted to know the cost associated in these transactions. In their conclusion, they found that companies utilized hedging to cover their financial cost. Hedging offsets the potential losses or gain incurred by the company’s investment. The authors also found that support programs like green certification, market premiums decrease the ability for the company to hedge their investments. As a result, the consumers would absorb the cost of the risk instead of the hedge fund.

Similar to Germany, other European countries adapted renewables as their main electrical source. However, the investment cost varies between the regions in Europe.  The projects in southern and eastern Europe have higher financing than projects in western in northern Europe. This is due to the different funding systems that support the project: a feed-in tariff system, sliding market system, green certificates, and fixed market premiums.

A feed-in tariff system allows developers a fixed tariff on electricity. In this system, the developers bear the risks if the project fails, but they do not have to any other tariffs related to risks, only the fixed tariff.

The sliding market premium  offers premiums to the plant operators. Compared to the feed in tariff system, these fees vary in amount. This systems as to incentive forecasting profits and risk before the project begins. The forecasting can aid the design of the wind power plant and photovoltaic system. Italy, Finland, and the Netherlands adopted this method.

Green certificates and fixed market premiums allow developers to sell electricity at market value. So far, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Poland, Belgium, and Romania used this system. They have some of the highest financing cost.

Although green certificate program seems to better idea, this method impacts the ability to hedge, which negative impacts the consumers due to higher cost for electricity. This report provides incite on the ways we can make renewable energy like wind power plants affordable for the masses. Recently, the cost  renewable technologies have decreased. If there more affordable investment options, this may ease the energy transition.

 

Source: May, N, Jurgens, I, Neuhoff, K. Renewable energy policy: risk hedging is taking center stage.  2017.. DIW Economic Bulletin 29:40.

 

Climate Change Increases Vulnerability for Millions who Rely on Grazing Lands

Livestock Grazing on Public Land
Credit: flickr

In February 2018, researchers at the University of Minnesota published a study in Nature Climate Change showing how precipitation variability has increased significantly on 49% of the world’s grazing lands. This variation in precipitation can have detrimental effects not only on the environment as a whole but also on the livelihoods of those who rely on livestock that graze on natural vegetation for food security.

Using climate data from 1901 to 2014, the researchers studied precipitation variability trends and concluded that grazing lands experienced an overall increase in fluctuation, both within and between the years. They also related global satellite measures of vegetation greenness to climate factors to reveal that variation in precipitation is a significant controlling factor of global vegetation productivity. Not only this but in their observations, researchers found that areas with high variation of precipitation support lower livestock densities than less-variable regions.

Map of changes in between-year precipitation variability
This map shows the changes in between-year variability. Of the total land area considered pasture in this analysis, 20% did not experience significant changes (in gray), while 31% experienced significant decreases, and 49% experienced significant increases in precipitation variability.
Credit: Nature Climate Change

With this information researchers were able to assess the risks to places where livestock grazing is important to local food security by using global data sets for percent pasture area and market influence to “define areas in which livestock grazing may play a more or less important role in local food availability or the economy.” These findings exhibit how grazing is extremely vulnerable to the potential effects of climate change, which may put the millions of people dependent on livestock for food security at risk.

The researchers concluded that changes in precipitation variability may cause a change in the composition of certain ecosystems and may also threaten the maintenance or expansion of livestock production. However, the impacts of climate change on livestock grazing will not only depend on precipitation variation but also on region, long-term precipitation trends, changes in the timing of snowmelt, the magnitude of precipitation events, and the changes in seasons. With global grazing lands experiencing 25% more year-to-year variability in precipitation than the average global surface land area, the impacts of climate change on these regions could be detrimental to both the livelihoods of humans and the environment overall.

Lindsey L. Sloat, James S. Gerber, Leah H. Samberg, William K. Smith, Mario Herrero, Laerte G. Ferreira, Cécile M. Godde, Paul C. West. Increasing importance of precipitation variability on global livestock grazing landsNature Climate Change, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41558-018-0081-5

Turning Food Waste into Usable Energy

A recent study discovers the potential and reality of transforming waste fruits and vegetables into usable electricity for citizens in Indonesia. In an effort to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels for energy and make best use of the waste generated by a population, researchers have created a system that takes in leftover food, creates biogas, and produces electricity as a final product. This system is much more sustainable than processing food waste in a landfill and releases roughly half of the emissions. In addition, the creation of biogas for electricity has a smaller processing cost than that of a landfill and the owner of the biogas system can earn a profit by selling the electricity made.

A diagram explaining how the process works. (Ariyanto et all., 2017)

Biogas is a form of biofuel that is created via anaerobic digestion when bacteria breaks down organic matter and releases gases such as methane and carbon dioxide. The methane produced can then be turned into gas for your home or electricity.

Researchers used organic waste from one of Indonesia’s largest markets, evaluated it, and conducted an experiment to determine how they would create a pilot biogas system for the local government and its partners. During the experimental period, mango was used in conjunction with cattle dung and water to determine the correct amount of solids and liquids in the biogas digester. The amount of waste produced by the market was analyzed to find an appropriate amount that the biogas plant should be built for. The market varied from producing 4 tons to 20 tons of food waste per day depending on seasonal factors. Therefore, researchers decided to build the system to digest 4 tons per day.

The plant generated 733 kWh of electricity per day, which is slightly smaller than the amount a typical U.S. home uses per month. Once the gas is produced and electricity made, some residue remains in the digester. This residue can be used as a fertilizer or as a form of irrigation, such as in the study where the leftover liquid was used on nearby farms to irrigate fields.

Making the most of what we have is one way that society can curb the effects of climate change and limit our use of raw natural resources.

 

Source: Ariyanto T., et al. 2017. UTILIZATION OF FRUIT WASTE AS BIOGAS PLANT FEED AND ITS SUPERIORITY COMPARED TO LANDFILL. International Journal Of Technology 8: 1385-1392

Ketamine for Dopamine: Club Drug Cures Depression?

Recently ketamine has come under focus for its notable effects treating depression. A new study seeks to identify the pathway that allows its rapid anti-depressant effects. The horse tranquilizer turned party drug may have found another niche. The study was published in Nature, funded by the National Key R&D program of China.

As this research is in its introductory stages, researchers used a mouse model instead of human subjects. To simulate depression symptoms, rats were specifically bred as “Congenitally Learned Helpless” and mice as “Chronic Restraint Stress”. The animals were then injected with Ketamine and their behavior or electrophysiology was examined.

The findings revealed that the ketamine works by inhibiting the NMDAR pathway, nicknamed the “anti-reward center”. Burst evoking stimulation of this pathway has been show to lead to depressive behavior and anhedonia. By inhibiting the NMDAR, downstream reward centers have been shown to quickly elevate mood and produce rapid acting anti-depressant effects.

This research does not address the question of what the long-term effects of ketamine are, and its utility may lie in helping to understand the pathways that regulate depressive mood rather than paving the way for ketamine prescriptions as an antidepressant, being that it has a significant potential for abuse (not to mention a sorted reputation).

Anti-depressants tend to focus on boosting serotonin and dopamine expression to elevate mood, but by understanding and manipulating the pathway that inhibits their expression, a more targeted and effective treatment can be administered. The discovery of the NMDAR antagonist and its rapid anti-depressant effects has been called the most important advance in psychiatry in the last century. We live in an age where clinical depression has become relatively commonplace, and the recently discovered effects of Ketamine as this critical antagonist cannot be ignored.

 

Yang Y, Cui Y, Sang K, Dong Y, Ni Z et. al. (2018) Ketamine blocks bursting in the lateral habenula to rapidly relieve depression. Nature 554: 317-22