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NIH Grants Boost Research on Depression, Endometriosis Treatments

February 27, 2018
Two scientists at SIU School of Medicine’s Department of Physiology have received federal funding to develop more effective therapies to treat two major health problems: depression and endometriosis.
Depression is a lingering feeling of sadness that interferes with daily life and can last for weeks or months at a time. The National Institutes of Mental Health estimates that 16 million adults – nearly 7 percent of the US population – has at least one major depressive episode annually.
Most people, even those with the most severe forms of depression, can get better with treatment. Assistant Professor Xiang Cai, PhD, is studying the fast-acting antidepressant ketamine to better understand how its cellular mechanisms function in the brain. He has received a $682,900 grant from the National Institutes of Health for his research. “Our hope is these laboratory studies can aid the design of a new generation of antidepressants,” said Dr. Cai.
More than 5.5 million American women have symptoms of endometriosis, an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of it, on other organs. Endometriosis is estimated to affect approximately 10 percent of reproductive-aged women.
Associate Professor Kanako Hayashi, PhD, in collaboration with Dr. J. Ricardo Loret de Mola, professor and chair of the Department of OB-GYN, is conducting experiments that could lead to improved treatments for endometriosis. Hayashi’s research will determine whether an FDA-approved drug (niclosamide) can affect STAT3 gene signaling within cells isolated from the endometrium to reduce inflammation and curb the unwanted growth of nerves and blood vessels, a condition common in endometriosis. An NIH grant of $405,625 will help fund their collaborative, translational studies.
Women with endometriosis often have pelvic pain during and between periods, pain during sex, heavy menstrual bleeding and may experience infertility. They often suffer for 6 to 10 years before proper diagnosis. SIU Medicine has multifaceted studies enrolling patients for endometriosis research. If you are interested in participating, please contact Kathleen Groesch at 217-545-6671, or

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