Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Scanners 'can treat depression'

Scanners can help combat depression, a US study of rats shows.
Harvard Medical School researchers found MRI scanners, which take internal images of the body, can have the same effect as standard anti-depressants.

The team employed a rarely-used type of scan known as EP-MRSI which tends to be used for brain scans.

But UK experts said they were sceptical about the findings and said more research was needed.

The team found rats experiencing stress and exhibiting helplessness - the rat equivalent of despair - recovered significantly when exposed to EP-MRSI, the journal Biological Psychiatry reported.

The scientists carried out the study after doctors reported similar effects in human patients with bipolar disorder.

Lead researcher Dr Bruce Cohen, a psychiatrist at the McLean Hospital in Massachusetts, which is affiliated to Harvard Medical School, said the findings had the potential to revolutionise depression treatment.

"The rats behaved as if they had received an anti-depressant. It's a non-drug way to change the firing of nerve cells.

"That's why the implications of this work have the potential to be so profound."

But William Carlezon, who also took part in the study, added it could also mean that some forms of MRI could be damaging to patients.

courtesy of http://news.bbc.co.uk

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