Narrator: This is Science Today. Serotonin is a key neurotransmitter in the brain which in abnormal levels, is linked to a variety of psychiatric disorders - including depression and anxiety. Laurence Tecott, a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco has genetically altered the serotonin brain system in mice in an effort to develop better targets for psychiatric drugs.
Tecott: Serotonin produces its effects by interacting with at least fourteen distinct serotonin receptor subtypes within the brain and we don't yet have a very good feeling for how each of the individual subtypes of serotonin receptors contribute to the actions of this neurotransmitter.
Narrator: In Tecott's study, mice which were genetically engineered to lack a serotonin 1A receptor had a dramatic increase in anxiety.
Tecott: We're applying this approach not only to the serotonin 1A receptor, but to a number of other receptors as well. Once we know which of the receptors are most important for the regulation of anxiety, those receptors may then serve as targets for the development of drugs that might be more effective..
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.