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Published on 3 February 2010

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Stress drugs ‘must work with body’

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Drugs which follow the body’s ‘natural rhythms’ may have a better chance of fighting stress, researchers have found.

The Bristol University researchers said these rhythms need to be regulated to stop damage caused by stressful situations and pharmaceutical companies should consider the best patterns of release as well as the structure of new drugs.

They found that the rhythms system, called the HPA axis, goes against the old idea that all hormonal rhythms originate in the brain.

They said they can be generated by interactions between the hypothalamus (in the brain), the pituitary gland (at the bottom of the brain) and the adrenal glands (at the top of the kidneys).

The hormones’ swing allows coping with the unexpected such as a vehicle hurtling towards you, due to maintaining the body in a state of permanent flux, said Stafford Lightman, professor of medicine at Bristol University.

Administering constant high levels of chemicals is not the best way to treat stress, the team concluded. They said in an article in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B that the body has its own “built-in processes” which allow it to regulate stress responses.

Drug companies have traditionally sought to design new treatments that are as potent and as long-lived in the body as possible. However, the team said their new analysis suggested that administering constant high levels of chemicals is not the best way to treat the condition

Copyright Press Association 2010

Department of Health



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