Why Prozac Is Still a Mystery

A recently-tested anti-depressed, which looked very good on paper, has failed to reduce depression rates. Our understanding of the brain still doesn't suffice to make good drugs.

What's the Latest Development?


The pharmaceutical industry's newest attempt to fight depression, a drug from Glaxo named GSK372475, has failed to outperform a placebo. GSK372475 was intended to block the breakdown of serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine, three brain chemicals associated with happiness and depression. The drug's failure is an example of how difficult it is to change the brain in predictable ways which benefit our health. Major pharmaceutical companies, frustrated by failure, are cutting their neuroscience research budgets.

What's the Big Idea?

It is difficult to overstate how much our scientific understanding of the brain has progressed in the last decade. Still, limits have frustrated our best attempts to develop drugs to improve the quality of our mental life. In fact, we do not even understand how drugs like Prozac work. Clinical trials have shown it outperforms a placebo in reducing rates of depression but, in a sense, we stumbled onto the solution. We got lucky. Despite our fervor for neuroscience and medical solutions, we may have to admit that we are still fumbling in the dark.

3D printing might save your life one day. It's transforming medicine and health care.

What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.

Northwell Health
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
  • Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
  • Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
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Big Think Edge
  • In some fundamental ways, humans haven't changed all that much since the days when we were sitting around communal fires, telling tales.
  • Although we don't always recognize them as such, stories, symbols, and rituals still have tremendous, primal power to move us and shape our lives.
  • This is no less true in the workplace than it is in our personal lives.

Has a black hole made of sound confirmed Hawking radiation?

One of Stephen Hawking's predictions seems to have been borne out in a man-made "black hole".

Image source: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Surprising Science
  • Stephen Hawking predicted virtual particles splitting in two from the gravitational pull of black holes.
  • Black holes, he also said, would eventually evaporate due to the absorption of negatively charged virtual particles.
  • A scientist has built a black hole analogue based on sound instead of light.
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Big Think Edge
  • The word "creative" is sometimes waved around like a badge of honor. We speak of creativity in hushed tones, as the special province of the "talented". In reality, the creative process is messy, open, and vulnerable.
  • For this reason, creativity is often at its best in a group setting like brainstorming. But in order to work, the group creative process needs to be led by someone who understands it.
  • This sense of deep trust—that no idea is too silly, that every creative impulse is worth voicing and considering—is essential to producing great work.