Thursday, August 24, 2006

Optimist

There's a man that works at the grocery store I frequent that is always happy. He's older, probably past 62 or so, and bags groceries and takes those groceries out to your car for you. He is so happy.

Today I saw him as I corralled all three kids from the parking lot to the store. I said hi and asked, "How are you today?"

"I'm blessed. I'm so blessed." He flashed a big toothy grin and asked me the same question.

"Fine." I can't really say great because I'm not great all the time. I don't want to say good because well, I'm not really. I'm fine. In the middle. I would love to have his greatfulness for life and occupation. How many of us really have that type of happiness? I've thought about him all day.

And, then I saw this article on Biology News Net. Maybe he is an "ever-happy" human.
A new breed of permanently 'cheerful' mouse is providing hope of a new treatment for clinical depression. TREK-1 is a gene that can affect transmission of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is known to play an important role in mood, sleep and sexuality. By breeding mice with an absence of TREK-1, researchers were able create a depression-resistant strain.

Isn't that cool? Wouldn't you like to resist depression? I could have used that in graduate school when I faced my own pit of despair.
Mice without the TREK-1 gene ('knock-out' mice) were created and bred in collaboration with Dr. Michel Lazdunski, co-author of the research, in his laboratory at the University of Nice, France. "These 'knock-out' mice were then tested using separate behavioral, electrophysiological and biochemical measures known to gauge 'depression' in animals," says Dr. Debonnel. "The results really surprised us; our 'knock-out' mice acted as if they had been treated with antidepressants for at least three weeks."

This research represents the first time depression has been eliminated through genetic alteration of an organism. "The discovery of a link between TREK-1 and depression could ultimately lead to the development of a new generation of antidepressant drugs," noted Dr. Debonnel.

Source: Ever-happy mice may hold key to new treatment of depression

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