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Ever-Happy Mouse Sheds Light on Depression

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the happy-go-lucky dept.

452

An anonymous reader writes "Scientists have bred a strain of mouse that's permanently cheerful, in hopes of better understanding and treating depression in people. By breeding mice lacking the TREK-1 gene, which is involved in serotonin transmission, researchers were able create a depression-resistant strain. They say it's the first time depression has been eliminated through genetic alteration of an organism."

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452 comments

Wow, good news. (1)

Lordpidey (942444) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960607)

Wow this is really good new.... aww hell I'm too depressed to finish writing this comment, where is the icecream?

Re:Wow, good news. (1)

flyboy974 (624054) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960720)

So when do we start getting demerits for foul language? Perhaps we need to start learning how to use the three sea shells? And good news. We shall have dinner and dancing at... Taco Bell.
 

So let me get this straight (4, Funny)

asifyoucare (302582) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960826)

Just keeping track ...

Scientists can now produce singing [slashdot.org] , fearless [slashdot.org]
, cancer resistant [slashdot.org] , super strong [slashdot.org]
, plague-infected [slashdot.org] , mice with human brain cells [slashdot.org]
from artificical sperm [slashdot.org] .

On top of that these mice are now happy?!

you mean: genetically modified ice cream (1)

zIRtrON (48344) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960839)

maybe your TREK-1 levels need levelling - clearly an additive to the ice-cream that came right off that test tube tree over there.

Lets call him (5, Funny)

mathi (539622) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960608)

Pinky

Re:Lets call him (1)

darkov (261309) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960672)

Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!

Re:Lets call him (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15960836)

Um... "Happy, Happy! Joy, Joy!" is from Ren & Stimpy, not Pinky & The Brain.

How the hell... (1)

xpeeblix (701114) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960610)

do they know the mice are happy?

Re:How the hell... (4, Funny)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960635)

There toning it down for the kids. By "Happy" they mean the mice are randy.

Re:How the hell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15960655)

By "Happy" they mean the mice are randy.
Micky's getting some tonight!

Re:How the hell... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15960639)

And how exactly do they induce depression in the mice?

Re:How the hell... (2, Funny)

TheDugong (701481) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960649)

By taking away their cheese.

Re:How the hell... (3, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960654)

Not taking away, just strategically moving it daily.

Re:How the hell... (4, Funny)

RsG (809189) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960727)

So, like office workers and deadlines?

Re:How the hell... (5, Informative)

pesho (843750) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960690)

One way is the 'forced swim test'. They put the mouse in a water tank from which it can't escape. The animal will normaly swim around trying to find a way out. If it is depressed it will tend to give up on swiming and spend long periods of time without moving. Another way is the 'tail suspension test'. It is prety much the same thing. The mouse is suspended on its tail. If it is depressed it won't give a shit about life and will just hang there. Give it some antidepresenats and it will move and try to escape a lot more actively.

nice.... (1)

sporkme (983186) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960611)

:HAPPY

ECHO Oh boy! Wheel!
ECHO Oh boy! Ladder!
ECHO Oh boy! Water!
ECHO Oh boy! Food

GOTO:HAPPY


From TFA:

The details of this research, which involved an international collaboration with scientists from the University of Nice, France....

What better place for depression research. No, really. They have great beaches. Such cool stones.

Re:nice.... (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960725)

The weather is more than OK in Nice, but everything is overpriced, the water isn't that clean, there is too much concrete on most beaches and it is our little Florida: too many old people who came here to die in a warm place and far too much organized crime.
Not the french city I'd like to go on vacation.

Old news (1)

gijoel (628142) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960615)

He's been working for Disney for years.

Extremely Happy Mice? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15960616)

Grow an ear on his back, that'll teach 'em!

Obligatory (2, Funny)

Dial-Up (842218) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960626)

I'd like the be the first to welcome our cheerful overlords...

Today's Philosphical question... (5, Insightful)

atomicstrawberry (955148) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960628)

If you're incapable of depression, and you're always happy, how do you know if you really are happy?

Re:Today's Philosphical question... (5, Insightful)

sporkme (983186) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960653)

The same question goes for antidepressant drugs. I have spent long hours debating this with a doped up roomate as he gleefully skipped from psychoactive to psychoactive about the benefits and detriments of mommy's little helpers. I know that they got him through some difficult spots (without the psychotic episodes of his adolescence), but they also stifled his writing ability and effictively stopped his songwriting.

He was successful in college and in work thanks to these drugs, but was he truly happy without poetry and music?

Maybe Winston Smith can shed some light on this.

Re:Today's Philosphical question... (3, Funny)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960675)

Most people are happy without poetry or music. (the "music" that is promoted with millions of dollars isn't really music, it's more like soft core pornography).

So he can't write songs anymore, he can still be a shoe salemen, CEO or a Senator.

Re:Today's Philosphical question... (1)

sporkme (983186) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960688)

So he can't write songs anymore, he can still be a shoe salemen, CEO or a Senator.

Those with foot fetishes, mass cleptomania, or superiority complexes/compulsive lying disorders are not exactly balanced!

The plot thickens, as it is revealed that he is now a psychologist.

Re:Today's Philosphical question... (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960704)

Maybe Winston Smith can shed some light on this.

No, not Smith, Marx. Bernard Marx.

KFG

Re:Today's Philosphical question... (1)

sporkme (983186) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960765)

Two pills good. Four pills bad. Soma us feelies that response deserves an alpha-plus. I'm just no pun. This is a Blair-ing example. Orwell you may be right, you just cant allude logic like that. Bah.

Re:Today's Philosphical question... (4, Insightful)

feyhunde (700477) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960743)

I have to argue the reverse, I'm only able to write on the anti-depressants, as depression is complex and arrests my motivation for writing, as well as clearing the wooly cobwebs in my brain that make the process so hard.

Re:Today's Philosphical question... (5, Insightful)

edunbar93 (141167) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960808)

He was successful in college and in work thanks to these drugs, but was he truly happy without poetry and music?

To quote Trent Reznor: "I don't write a lot when I'm happy."

I have a theory that says that the function of modern art is for the viewer to live vicariously through the artist's insanity. Van Gogh was famous for this. So was Leonard Cohen, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Alan Ginsberg, Salvador Dali, and Jackson Pollock, to name a few.

Perhaps the question isn't "can he be happy without his poetry", but "can he make good poetry without his sadness".

May not generalize to humans (5, Funny)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960633)

Deactivate a mouse's TREK-1 and it acts like it's on antidepressants.

Take my Trek away from me and I get depressed.

Re:May not generalize to humans (1)

umghhh (965931) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960738)

It is easy for the mice to be cheerful. They do not have to pay the bill.

Interestingly - happy people should not work in quality assurance especially of things like space shuttle or nuclear devices - they are so happy that they fail to predict all the black scenarios.

BTW: the psychopats that so cheerfully call themselves doctors used to apply electro-schocks, cut connections between parts of brain and tried some other methods of 'human' treatment. Now they manipulate genes to go on with their jolly deeds. I wonder where that ends. I suppose I have just qualified for their treatment.

Re:May not generalize to humans (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15960790)

Depression is more about how one feels about a situation rather than what one thinks.

I beleive I am capable of thinking dispairing thoughts if needed, without having to be depressed. But from past experience I have found that repeating thought patterns which carry subtle emotional cues will have more emotional impact over time, which are very difficult to get rid of once they take hold.

If this is the case then it is best to have a change in enviroment and focus on changing your thought patterns.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say, think what you want, just don't dwell on your negative thoughts/emotions, it helped me through my depression.

Re:May not generalize to humans (1)

ins0m (584887) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960782)

I read this and thought of cycling [trekbikes.com] .

Guess I must still be new here [startrek.com] .

Makes you not care? (4, Insightful)

siegesama (450116) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960637)

I wonder how closely depression and negative emotions like outrage, regret, etc are tied together? If I'm unable to be depressed, would I be able to care about what seems to be a series of bad things shaping the world? People I've met on anti-depressants can be pretty non-chalant regarding just about everything, so long as they're on their pills.

If you can see where I'm going with this, you're probably a paranoid conspiracy theorist too.

Re:Makes you not care? (0, Flamebait)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960658)

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

We advance one step closer to the breeding farms of the perfect prole, moving ever onward and upward toward the human termite mound.

Sing Hallelujah!

If you can see where I'm going with this. . .

What did I win? What did I win? Ummmmmmmmmm, nevermind, I probably don't want it anyway. No, I mean it, take it away, please . . .Arrrrrrrrrrrrgh!

KFG

Re:Makes you not care? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15960742)

It troubles me that thoughts like this are instantly assinged "paranoid conspiracy", even in jest. Folks, look around, conspiracies can and do happen. What was 9/11 if not a conspiracy? Maybe you disagree on who the conspirators were, but there is no doubt there was a conspiracy.

Anyway, I know where you are going with this. I don't think it's conspiracy, I just think too many idiots are so scared of their own darkness, that they will do everything it takes to avoid making peace with it and just as many idiots are right there licking their chops thinking about the profits to be made selling people "soma".

I've come through some very dark times and I'm a pretty happy guy now. No pills. It was hard work to get through the darkness and it wasn't what the typical caffeine addict armchair psych student would consider normal, but then, most of humanity wouldn't relate to their concept of normal so who the hell really cares? But I've digressed, intentionally, and back to my point... You need the darkness and the light. Don't be scared of the dark. You find stuff there, important stuff, that no one can explain exactly. You have to see it for yourself and work it out, ultimately, for yourself.

There is a time to be depressed and when that time comes, be depressed. Don't hide from it. That's the number one mistake people make. Thinking they should be happy. No genius, if you are feeling depressed, that's a pretty good sign that you have something to be depressed about. Figure out what it is and get to the heart of it, then and only then can you uproot it once and for all.

Re:Makes you not care? (4, Interesting)

Eivind Eklund (5161) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960761)

If you wonder, find out... The answer is somewhat complex.

To give you at least some help: Part of the reason for the apathy of the anti-depressant crowd is that the most common anti-depressants are serotonin boosters (SSRIs), and serotonin is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Now, certain other antidepressants (e.g, MAOIs) work by boosting other neurotransmitters, and can handle depression without apparently leading to the kind of apathy/nonchalance you're talking about.

With the usual Slashdot disclaimer: I am not a psychiatrist.

Eivind.

Re:Makes you not care? (4, Interesting)

edunbar93 (141167) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960766)

Spoken like someone who's never had a problem with depression.

Personally, I think that's a small sacrifice to keep from wanting to KILL YOURSELF!

When someone's clinically depressed, the whole world is in shades of grey to them. Things that would normally bring joy are met at best with indifference and anger at worst. Interest in eating and having sex wanes. Social activities and obligations are ignored, along with housework. They feel listless and sleep more.

Then there's the extreme sadness and suicidal tendencies.

Personally, I wouldn't mind not caring for the 4 months out of the year that I'm depressed.

Re:Makes you not care? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15960800)

"People I've met on anti-depressants can be pretty non-chalant regarding just about everything, so long as they're on their pills."

In those of us with inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and many others; stress and depression cause severe "flare-ups" of the disease that can be incapacitating, debilitating, and in the long term can even cause deformities. Anything that helps relieve stress is beneficial to us medically, not just psychologically. Understanding the sorry state of the world and the semi-fascist plutocracy I live in (the good old USA) doesn't mean I should ruin my life with worry, particularly since there's nothing I can do about those things.

Ik heb trek (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15960638)

je t'enmerde slashdot

What about appropriate depression ? (2, Insightful)

Czar the Bizarre (841811) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960640)

Whilst this seems like it could be useful if applied to humans, what kind of effect is it going to have at times that it might be appropriate to be depressed (ie. greiving period after a death, etc.)?

Re:What about appropriate depression ? (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960669)

. . .what kind of effect is it going to have at times that it might be appropriate to be depressed. . .

Less loss of work time and more productivity. What else is there to strive for?

KFG

Re:What about appropriate depression ? (4, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960777)

Less loss of work time and more productivity. What else is there to strive for?


It may actually work the other way around.

See, the brain (and not only in humans) is nicely tuned to keep needing the next thing to be happy about. Whenever you have some achievement (even small ones, like getting food when you're hungry) the brain gives itself a "yay, I'm happy" chemical signal, but that's followed immediately by releasing the "antidote" to that signal, to get back to the baseline. So you'll need the next achievement for your next moment of joy.

It's what keeps humans and all animals active. It's why your cat plays and thus trains its reflexes daily, instead of vegetating in a corner, still happy that it played last month.

In human society it's also a very important factor in why, for example, consumerism is alive and kicking, and keeping the capitalist economy going well past the point where just the needs are covered. People keep having these illusions like "man, I would be soo happy if I had that one more gadget/shirt/etc", and they do get happy about it... for a very brief time. Then they need their next achievement. And in turn, getting caught in the consumerism race also keeps them in the rat race at work, and taking shit they otherwise wouldn't put up with.

You can see in "video game addiction" cases what happens when people can stay continuously happy. It's not really physiological addiction, but good games give people small rewards often, which triggers the "yay, I'm happy" signal in the brain. There's always one more quest you finished, one more recipe you learned, one more item that you sold at the auction house (or IRL on eBay), one more boss you defeated, one more equipment piece you found, etc. So some people, which are kept happy enough by that, end up not doing anything else. You can see cases going all the way to playing for a month and then dropping dead.

So my take is that if someone actually produced genetically-engineered humans which are permanently happy, those humans would be even worse. They wouldn't even need video games to stay happy, so they probably wouldn't bother even with that. If you can be perfectly happy sitting on the couch watching the wall, you don't need to do anything else. You don't even need to buy a TV. Nor take shit from a PHB and do overtime to afford a huge plasma TV and a fashionable house in the suburbs. You get the idea.

Re:What about appropriate depression ? (1, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960792)

If you can be perfectly happy sitting on the couch watching the wall, you don't need to do anything else. You don't even need to buy a TV. Nor take shit from a PHB and do overtime to afford a huge plasma TV and a fashionable house in the suburbs. You get the idea.

I'm a Buddhist.

KFG

Re:What about appropriate depression ? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960679)

This research will never be applied to humans. But it is a good (I assume anyway FTFA) step forward to allow the genetic alteration of depression. Depression isn't feeling depressed, but having a genetic defficiency that makes it so you have difficulty leaving a depression (and let's not get into bipolar). Someone that doesn't have this genetic defficiency still gets depressed, as does someone who takes anti-depression medication. But eventually they will leave the depression (although in extreme cases they may need a drug/more drugs to help them out of it).

Re:What about appropriate depression ? (1)

mrjb (547783) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960816)

It is normal to grieve after a death, but this isn't the same as being depressed (although I've seen people fall into depression after a death). Depression knows no reason - it can make someone feel down for no reason at all.

Even if biochemically they may be similar, there is a major difference: Grief is a temporary imbalance in body chemistry, whereas depression is a new balance altogether.

Reavers?! (2, Insightful)

kafkar (820561) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960643)

Hmm, sounds like we might have some reaver mice on our hands in a few years.

Re:Reavers?! (1)

Timberwolf0122 (872207) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960731)

It's okay this is just gene manipulation, not the introduction of PAX Were are medelsom, people dont like to be medled with.

Kill the damn things (4, Funny)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960647)

Kill the damn things before they escape, learn to talk, and start asking us if "we are having a case of the Mondays"

NO GOOD CAN COME OF THIS

a similar effect in humansth (3, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960650)

humans can have very similar experience: just quit work and start smoking pot, eating magic mushrooms and dancing on the streets in the nude.

Is it a good idea to get rid of stress-related (causing) mechansims? A stress free life maybe a very exciting prospect for an individual for about a month or a year, but is this going to be good from point of view of the bigger picture? If humans did not stress about things at all, would they bother doing anything, like bothering to find food, protecting the offspring, basically surviving as a species?

Re:a similar effect in humansth (5, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960680)

. . .just quit work and start smoking pot, eating magic mushrooms and dancing on the streets in the nude.

Oh, wow man, you've seen me, huh?

KFG

Re:a similar effect in humansth (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960685)

were you that talking cloud in my head? I really hope I haven't.

Re:a similar effect in humans (2, Funny)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960723)

start smoking pot, eating magic mushrooms and dancing on the streets in the nude.

Seeing Rosanne Barr naked in the streets would sober my ass right up, and depress me, all in one shot.

Re:a similar effect in humans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15960799)

The really scary part of your post is that the first person you thought of naked dancing in the street was Roseanne Barr.

Not exactly the person that I would have thought of first...

Re:a similar effect in humans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15960830)

Would that be before, or after, you gouged your eyes out?

Don't get excited yet (5, Informative)

Heir Of The Mess (939658) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960657)

TREK-1 has an important role in neuroprotection against epilepsy and brain and spinal chord ischemia. So there are some very adverse side effects to this.

The article seems very light. There's lots of interesting stuff to be found if you google for "trek-1 gene".

Exciting Applications! (5, Funny)

Selanit (192811) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960659)

Hey, maybe the scientists can use this to their advantage. Something like this:

PETA spokesman: You're abusing animals in your lab, you fiend.

Scientist: But they're happy!

PETA spokesman: How can they be happy with you jabbing them with needles every half hour? Among OTHER things.

Scientist: Easy - they're permanently cheerful, no matter what we do to 'em. We engineered 'em that way.

PETA spokesman: >.

Why do I think about hitchhikers guide... (1)

kn0tw0rk (773805) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960817)

So the next step is to make an animal (cow, pig, whatever) happy with the prospect of being eaten by us and add enough intelligence so that it can communicate this to us.

Re:Exciting Applications! (2, Interesting)

Denial93 (773403) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960825)

And when they manage to create a drug that makes you more happy/motivated/industrious/intelligent (all related factors!) without noticable side effects, you'll get an interesting situation.

If it is regarded ethically acceptable to ask people to take them (or unethical to deny them access!), they will become a commodity item at least for the rich, depending on production prices. I expect employers who fire people who do not use such drugs, insurances with better rates for users, politicians demanding a supply of them for everyone as part of health care.

If, however, they are made illegal (out of habit if for no other reason), they'll be another street drug much like coke and will be extremely popular in schools, especially before exams. Success in life will be directly influenced by one's skill in obtaining illegal items.

I'm all for the former option. The latter is more "natural" and "humane", but I never understood the supposed value of those attributes anyway, and the former is certainly more likely to make a lot of things better in all areas: individual happiness, crime, economy, health... it may be ethical to give up (more of) our natural human condition.

Interesting news (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960664)

since this will actually help in disabling the gene with new types of drugs. Getting caught in a depression loop is no fun at all... There is a difference between being resistent to depression and always happy. Unhappiness is one thing, which goes up quickly and goes away quickly. A depression is something that builds up over time accumulating through failures and that needs some kind of treatment.

The point here is to catch on to better treatments because even if the depression-triggering factors are removed the depression may still be present and self-sustaining.

I'm not sure I like this (1)

cozziewozzie (344246) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960687)

I'm all for medical advances and improving people's lives, but something just doesn't sit well with genetically engineering happy people.

I mean, call me old-fashioned, but we are people exactly because we have the full spectrum of emotions, all of which have influenced our society and creativity.

Sure, a society full of happy people is a nice goal to strive towards, but isn't the right way to approach this actually improving society, to make it more suitable for humans, and a happier environment to live in? Like Fromm argued long ago.

Something about this just reeks of genetically engineering efficient workers who don't complain instead of fixing some of societies underlying problems. Sure, it could help some clinically depressed patients, but I can't help but think of Lucas' THX 1138 if this gets out of hand.

Re:I'm not sure I like this (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960756)


I mean, call me old-fashioned, but we are people exactly because we have the full spectrum of emotions, all of which have influenced our society and creativity.

What if there were people that already had this genetic difference naturally. Are they somehow less than human?

The problem as I see it is that unhappiness is often what fuels innovation. If everyone is sitting around completely content with their lives all the time, who's going to come up with anything new?

Re:I'm not sure I like this (1)

cozziewozzie (344246) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960812)

What if there were people that already had this genetic difference naturally. Are they somehow less than human?

Of course not. But I'm still not sold on genetically engineering other people to be like them. I mean, we are not talking about some horrible condition.

It's like genetically engineering everybody to have blue eyes. Is it really necessary?

People are not Mice (2, Insightful)

TheLoneCabbage (323135) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960703)


Mice wake up, eat, sh!t and run on their wheel.

Mice DON'T change the world. Mice invent new tools to save back breaking labor.

Mice don't feel taunted by the universe, to figure out it's secrets.

Mice don't get depressed because a loved one is dying of cancer, and work tirelessly seeking, supporting, and funding medical research. (then again I think Mice get the raw end of this particular desire of Man)

I am not a rat in cage.

I am not a tool to be made happy so I can work longer at a job I should hate.

Keep your chemical paradise, I'll take life for all it's worth.

Re:People are not Mice (5, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960744)

Mice don't feel taunted by the universe, to figure out it's secrets.

42, Dude. 42.

KFG

Re:People are not Mice (1)

Timberwolf0122 (872207) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960749)

Ah, the subtlety of it all. As we know mice built* the entire world and manipulate the humans, running a maze then turning the wrong way when we least expect it. Genius I tells the.

*Well the sub-contracted the job but they did pay for it.

So many Hitchhiker references, so little time. (1)

S.P.B.Wylie (983357) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960780)

Mice don't feel taunted by the universe, to figure out it's secrets.
Mice DON'T change the world. Mice invent new tools to save back breaking labor.
To quote the Douglas Adams:
For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much - the wheel, New York, wars and so on - whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man - for precisely the same reasons.

On a more serious note, just because mice deal with different issues, who is to say their depression is any different. First of all, all pain in relative: being hanged by the tail might be as big of a deal for a mouse as you losing a job is for you, there is no way to tell. Second, as previous posters have pointed out, continuous depression is less a factor of the situation and more a factor of how your body deals with it. Biology makes it so that some people deal with the death of a loved one relatively well, while others break down completely at day to day activities. Basically, who are you to say that similar ways of dealing with depression can be used on mice and people.

It's a start (4, Funny)

starling (26204) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960707)

If they can breed a Goth that's permanently cheerful *then* I'll be impressed.

Re:It's a start (1)

jpardey (569633) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960754)

They are not quite there yet, but they have done that on emo kids, producing what is called a "Candy Raver."

Also, it was found that goth kids and emo kids are identical, save for the emo kids having a gene that aids in the identification of irony. Without either depression or irony, what would these creatures become?

Re:It's a start (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15960784)

They've done it. Try Gilly from Dork Tower [gamespy.com] ?

Re:It's a start (2, Insightful)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960832)

If they can breed a Goth that's permanently cheerful *then* I'll be impressed.

You don't know many goths, do you? I think you have Goths and Emo-Kiddies confused.

I dunno... (1)

Sippan (932861) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960708)

If we resorted to genetic engineering of humans to make everyone perpetually happy, I'd say that'd be quite depressing.

Already happy animals (1)

boldra (121319) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960712)

I wonder if this will lead to identifying animals that don't have this gene at all as being permanently happy? Perhaps it will be revealed that koalas or dolphins are also happy the whole time.

Obligatory Cynical Futurist Post (1)

QuantumFTL (197300) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960715)

I know a lot of people who have struggled with depression, and I really hope more effective treatments are created as a result of this study. But, and this is a big "but" (not the J Lo kind), this kind of treatment practically begs for "A Brave New World" type exploitation by a government (even a "benign" one). Considering all of the other means by which some governments force their will upon a population, they would be stupid not to take advantage of this type of advanced "happy pill."

Of course, it's possible that this type of demeanor just isn't stable in a human, or (more likely) it reduces the usable work output of a person enough that it could not be abused on that scale. Of course there's also the problems of individuals taking drugs like these for personal use and ending up apathetic about everything else (a "safe" version of crack, so to speak). Any thoughts on preventing/solving these problems?

Oblig H2G2 (3, Funny)

wannabgeek (323414) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960719)

Let's get Marvin to talk to the mouse and see if it still remains cheerful.

Re:Oblig H2G2 (1)

swordfishBob (536640) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960797)

it's only a step away from the animal who wants to be eaten.

What would PETA make of that?!

Depression like pain? (1)

YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960722)

If you'd take away pain, there's not much of a strong, primary inhibitor to prevent yourself from damaging yourself (except rational thoughts, which usually take second place to instincts).

I'm going on a edge here, as not all depressions have clear causes, but I'd say most depressions are symptoms of unhealthy emotional behaviour, like not being able to bond to another human e.g. Much like not all pain has a clear cause, but mostly it's just you hitting yourself on the thumb with a hammer or such. Taking away the depression will take away the motivation to solve the underlying problems.

I dunno, but I have a bad feeling about scientists even trying this, it all seems very short sighted. What would the pratical applications be? Genetically altering foetuses of people with a hereditary inclination to depression? Brrrr...

Re:Depression like pain? (1)

Eivind Eklund (5161) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960811)

Go away from that edge - it's sharp, and standing on it just hurt you ;)

Contrary to popular belief, depression is to a large degree a physical thing. It is possible to treat with talk therapy, but it's more reliable to treat with a clinical diet (well over 95% reliability) or heavy exercise. It is sourced from stress, both physical and mental.

And depression generally isn't motivating. It's the exhaustion stage, where you have very little motivation left, because you've spent your reserves.

I'm trying to think of the best references to give you here - a good intro to psychology (including biopsychology) should cover this. For the original source for a lot of this, Hans Selye's research into stress would be the place to go - it's summarized in a semi-popularized form in "The Stress Of Life". That's still a fairly hard read, though. An easier read is "Why zebras don't get ulcers" (I don't remember the name of the author).

Eivind.

New breakthough != new cure. (1)

S.P.B.Wylie (983357) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960726)

I don't really think that anyone will use this method on humans. This gene evolved for a reason, and just removing it could cause problems. What this does do, though, is show that influencing the genes themselfs can stop depression, which could lead to new cures. This is less of a way of tackling the problem, and more a way of looking at it differently.

Imagine... (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960730)

A beowulf country of happy republican slaves.

Maybe that is enough to make the neocons believe in genetics.

Always happy mousy! (1)

junglee_iitk (651040) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960733)

FEMALE MOUSE 1 to (No TREK-1) Mouse: You are so cool, always cheerful, lets have sex!

FEMALE MOUSE 2 to others: That mouse has no self-respect!

OK Good, now dump it on the Middle East (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15960737)

... Bush and Cheney too, and while your at it slip me some of that. Ah, wait, wow that feels nice. Fuck it, everything will work out. I'm going to the park.

Umm... life without depression sounds depressing (1)

IDontLinkMondays (923350) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960740)

Obviously Trek-1 exists in the animal physiology for a reason. Although it can take what seems like eons to genetically evolve, the system would have removed this substance from the body at least to some degree if it weren't necessary. A previous post had mentioned that it's used in relation to epilepsy, or more to the point, it is part of the system that avoids epilepsy. This sounds pretty important to me.

Now, I don't think it's a bad idea to experiement with this kind of genetic science, in fact, I'm glad someone is doing it. Whether we actually directly benefit from this research regarding Trek-1 or if we benefit from the methods that were created or learned regarding genetic manipulation in general, it's a good thing. The problem is, could they have spent their time and the tax payers money more wisely by altering another gene instead? After all, if we already knew that high risk of epilepsy (if I understood the post I refered to correctly) is the side effect of this type of genetic manipulation, then in reality, it can be seen as producing and organism susceptible to epilepsy instead of having produced a less depressed organism.

Also, I don't know if anyone else has had the experience that I've had in the past with people that are typically never depressed. I mean, really... it's incredibly annoying. I even know one person that is naturally incapable of being depressed (it seems) and also has insomnia. This combination made him the worst roommate I ever had. Although I love him like a brother, I can't spend a weekend at a cabin with him. It's just not possible.

I'd also like to point out, that in my experience, a persons ability to understand the difference between right and wrong is often based on their ability to place themselves in another persons' shoes. For example, it must be wrong to do this, because if someone did it to me, I would be sad and depressed. After all, if you were to take someones puppy and put it in a meat grinder to make sausages, if they were incapable of feeling depression, then they probably wouldn't even care.

Whether there are people with severe depression disorders or not, it's part of what makes us human. I sadly am a realist and believe that unless normal people had depressed people to compare themselves to, then they would be the depressed people themselves.

Well, yeh, I wasted far more time on this than I should have already, everyone enjoy your Wednesday, sleep well and dream of large women.

Happy Happy Joy Joy (1)

Mr_Zed (996049) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960748)

This is a new conspiracy call the "Booby-Hatch Conspiracy." I guess those men/ladies in those funny white coats (or is that funny blue coats?) don't have enough of a workload so they are drumming up more of a workload for themselves. If this is the case then maybe they are the ones to be locked up while the insane, umm, i mean the "happy ones" go free.

The end of EMO? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15960750)

Perhaps we will one day see an end to this fad of the perpetually depressed EMO kids...

It's like Serenity! (2, Informative)

fincan (989293) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960757)

Anybody saw/remember Serenity (movie of Sci-Fi series Firefly)? Can it happen if we get rid of stress? Spoiler Alert! -------------- In the movie, somehow they took people's aggressiveness, and people simply stopped doing anything (they literally stopped moving), and they died while they are sitting/lying down like dolls. --------------

If everyone was happy it would be the end (1)

Timberwolf0122 (872207) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960758)

Why do people make things better or new things? Because were become unhappy with the old, thats why we have cars, areosole cheese, jam, rockets, WD-40 and duct tape.

If you were always happy with burning your hand then we would never of made the oven glove.

cure depression?? (1)

revolu7ion (994315) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960759)

They say Depression is the common cold of mental health. There are two types: Clinical depression (the chemical inbalance type) and depression caused from 'faulty mind-sets'. This won't stop depression... it will just be another drug that doctors will prescribe. Besides, being someone who has suffered from heavy depression for years, i think that it can be good to have in small doses. It gives you a wake up call, "hello - everything is not well - you may want to get some help"... thats what it did for me. I'm of the opinion that too many people opt for the 'chemical fix' rather than adjusting thinking patterns, changing their thought life.

Hmm (1)

Ellidi T (941495) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960762)

This kind of scares me.
Being depressed once in a while is a part of life which I think is very important.
There are some things you just can't learn by simply being 'happy' all the time.

IF this will ever be applied in masses to human beings (wich I doubt), and IF something
goes wrong later on and the person feels depressed for some reason, it has NO way
of dealing with it.

It's a bit like teaching someone about pain without ever inflicting it.

Damn... (1)

midkay (984862) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960767)

And I thought this was for computer mice. I could really use a depression-alleviating mouse to cheer me up while I stuff my face with chips and coke while playing CS all day. Thanks for nothing, science. :(

Side-Effects, Now Permanently Ingrained (1)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960772)

Two common side effects of most SSRIs:

Increased thoughts of suicide in teens.
Decreased libido.

When they find you're suffering side effects of one, they phase you over to another in the hopes of dodging those side effects.

You'd really want to be damned sure the source wasn't simply your body's reaction to its own seratonin in larger quantities before you modified genes and made it permanent. As far as I'm aware, you generally can't simply switch to a different set of genes if one set isn't working so well.

PATB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15960774)

Are you pondering what I'm pondering, Pinky?

I dunno Brain, but whatever it is, it's going to be fun. WahooeeeiiiNARF!

Oblig. Serenity Reference (1)

Ferzelic (571317) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960779)

"It's the Pax. The G-Paxilon Hydrochlorate that we added to the air processors. It was supposed to calm the population, weed out aggression.

"Well, it works. The people here stopped fighting. And then they stopped everything else. They stopped going to work, they stopped breeding, talking, eating. There's a million people here, and they all just let themselves die.

"I have to be quick. About a tenth of a percent of the population had the opposite reaction to the Pax. Their aggressor response increased beyond madness. They have become...well, they've killed most of us. And not just killed -- they've done things.

"I won't live to report this, but people have to know. We meant it for the best... to make people safer..."

Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight? (1)

nephridium (928664) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960791)

The same thing we do every night, Pinky: Throw a muthaf*ckin party in this muthaf*ckin cage - yoyoyo man, give up!

and a follow up (1)

nephridium (928664) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960814)

"Are you pondering what I'm pondering, Pinky?"
"Narf!"
"Exactly! - Narf!"
"Narf!"
"Narf!"
"Zonk!"
"Dude I'm so high right now, and I don't even konw why!"
"Narf!"
(...)

Mice (1)

DavidD_CA (750156) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960801)

... or is that just what the hyper-intelligent, pan-dimensional mice WANT us to think?

Depression exists for a reason.... (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960818)

Some of my most profound thoughts have occurred during periods of depression. How else can one get a better perspective on things usually taken for granted? Depression even helps me prioritise things... without it I wouldn't have discovered the energy and motivation to change things I ought to.

I would think it axiomatic that most thinkers like Einstein and Newton have had long and frequent bouts of depression. An uncaring, nonchalant, ever-smiling drone is useless in real life - unless one is a politician, that is. Or a lawyer, perhaps.

New drugs (1)

SickLittleMonkey (135315) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960819)

"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.

Uh, yeah. Forgive my lack of enthusiasm about that last part.

We're not even sure how current antidepressants work, which leads to prescribing them in a shotgun manner hoping that one will cure what ails ya', and producing a raft of side-effects including - wait for it - suicidal tendancies.

What we really need out of this discovery is more drugs. Riiiight.

SLM

Prior Art (1)

tanveer1979 (530624) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960822)

This is nothing new. It was done long time back when Jerry was created. Jerry has been blasted into outer space, hit upon with a sledgehammer, is perpetually chased by a cat 10 times his size, but he never ever gets depressed

Missing half of life - a brave new world indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15960833)

What kind of nut job wants to create permanently cheerful beings? Mega corporations and governments - that's who! Are you low paid, beaten, ill-fed and without proper housing? Missing some human rights? Don't worry - all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. Be cheerful!

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