Recent research points to the importance of a molecule called relaxin-3 in the brain, with effects on various processes and behaviors such as mood, stress, and cognition. Because these are often aberrant in mental illnesses, investigators are studying the potential of relaxin-3-based interventions to treat depression, anxiety, and other conditions.
A new review looks at where such research stands and what additional studies are necessary.
"There is a need for new and better drugs for mental illnesses. An accumulation of recent research points to potential that relaxin-3 and its receptor RXFP3 may be a new target for treatment of these disorders," said Dr. Gavin Dawe, senior author of the British Journal of Pharmacology review. "Developments in stapled peptide technology--whereby peptides are chemically stabilized by crosslinking with small molecules--are now opening prospects for selectively targeting RXFP3 to develop a new class of drugs for mental illnesses."