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.

China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
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A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
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Here's how diverse the 116th Congress is set to become

The 116th Congress is set to break records in term of diversity among its lawmakers, though those changes are coming almost entirely from Democrats.

(Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
  • In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
  • Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
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