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C. Working To Improve A Popular Drug Therapy

Narrator: This is Science Today. There are a whole class of drugs, including Prozac, which alter the amount of serotonin in the brain to treat depression and a variety of anxiety disorders. But Laurence Tecott, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco says serotonin, a key neurotransmitter, interacts with at least fourteen different receptors..

Tecott: In the case of drugs like Prozac, it's conceivable that the drug is going to increase the stimulation of every serotonin receptor subtype in the brain. And so the therapeutic effects that result turn out to be sort of the sum total of all of these complex effects on different serotonin receptors on the brain.

Narrator: And it's very unlikely all these receptors need to be stimulated to produce the optimal beneficial effect.

Tecott: In addition, there are a number of side effects associated with this class of drugs. And if we could understand which receptors contribute to those then we could also generate drugs with improved side effect profiles.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.