Neurotrophin-3 is a molecule scientists believe can impact how people experience symptoms of anxiety. High levels of the neurotrophin-3 molecule being present in a subject can lower anxiety levels, as revealed in initial testing on rhesus macaques monkeys. However, the brain’s chemistry is highly complex, and scientists must consider many factors before using neurotrophin-3 as a potential cure for anxiety.
Anxiety molecule context
Researchers at the University of California used ribonucleic acid sequencing to locate neurotrophin-3 within the brain. Neurotrophin-3 is primarily responsible for causing neurons to grow and form new synapses. However, the scientists also noticed a correlation between the rhesus macaques monkey’s levels of neurotrophin-3 and their observed anxiety levels. As a result, the research team believed the molecule could be an alternative treatment to conventional therapies and drugs currently used for depression and anxiety. Current medications are only partly effective at reducing the symptoms of stress and anxiety-related mental disorders and may be entirely ineffective for many patients.
The study aimed to understand dispositional anxiety, which is the inclination to perceive several situations as dangerous. With increased concentrations of neurotrophin-3, the monkeys showed lower levels of anxiety and inhibitory behaviors commonly associated with the disorder. Other experts believe that several other molecules within the brain could have a similar effect in reducing anxiety in humans, making research essential to finding a cure for such disorders.
Current medications for anxiety, such as benzodiazepines and barbiturates, lead to significant side effects for many people. In some cases, these medications may worsen the symptoms of the disorder itself. If neurotrophin-3 can be used to treat anxiety, its availability can lead to significant changes in how mental wellness treatments and drugs are prescribed to patients.
However, the long-term side effects of the molecule are still unknown and it will likely take many years to become apparent. With the United States’ Food and Drug Administration likely to classify neurotrophin-3 as a prescription-based drug due to the potential for misuse, other anxiety, and stress-related treatments may develop to complement its use. Adults able to use neurotrophin-3 once it becomes available may benefit as they will be less stressed, more productive at work, and have improved mental health. Companies that manufacture current anxiety and stress-related pharmaceuticals may need to adjust their operating models to account for neurotrophin-based treatments claiming significant market share within the future subscription drug sector.
Implications of the neurotrophin-based treatments for anxiety
The wider implications of anxiety treatments that use neurotrophin becoming available may include:
- General improvement in mental wellness for persons suffering from anxiety, leading to improved productivity in their places of work.
- Reduced rates of suicide and self-harm among the public.
- Fewer prescriptions and lower sales of other anxiolytic drugs, potentially reducing manufacturing demands on pharmaceutical companies and leading to workforce changes.
- Potential use cases (or abuses) as a performance enhancement drug among healthy individuals involved in high-stress jobs or athletic competitions.
- Lawmakers in different jurisdictions passing laws regulating the use of neurotrophin-based treatments.
Questions to comment
- Do you think neurotrophin-3 should be a controlled substance?
- Should athletes and individuals without mental health concerns be allowed to use neurotrophin-3 as a nootropic or performance enhancement drug?