Researchers have discovered a new intermediate step, along with unexpected enzymatic activity, in a metabolic pathway in the body which could lead to new drug design for psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases. The research team has been studying a metabolic pathway called the tryptophan kynurenine pathway, which is linked to psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, including depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, AIDS dementia complex, asphyxia in newborns and epilepsy. This pathway produces several neurotransmitter regulators and is responsible for metabolizing nearly 99 percent of the tryptophan in the body. Tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for mood.
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