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SCIENCE FILE / Science in Brief

Anti-anxiety drugs aid obsessive mice

August 25, 2007|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Mice born without a key brain protein developed obsessive-compulsive symptoms that went away when treated with anti-anxiety drugs, giving new clues about the brain mechanism behind the disorder, researchers reported Thursday in the journal Nature.

They said mice that lacked the gene SAPAP3 -- which makes a protein that helps nerves communicate -- groomed their faces until they bled and developed an aversion for bright, open spaces.

Fluoxetine, an anti-anxiety drug sold by Eli Lilly & Co. under the brand name Prozac and used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder in humans, relieved the symptoms.

Researchers said the study was the first to suggest that a defect in the part of the brain called the striatum can cause obsessive-compulsive symptoms.

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