A gene in the brain driving anxiety symptoms has been identified by an international team of scientists. Critically, modification of the gene is shown to reduce anxiety levels, offering an exciting novel drug target for anxiety disorders.

The discovery, led by researchers at the Universities of Bristol and Exeter, is published online today (April 25) in Nature Communications.

Anxiety disorders are common with one in four people diagnosed with a disorder at least once in their lifetime. Severe psychological trauma can trigger genetic, biochemical and morphological changes in neurons in the brain’s amygdala—the brain region implicated in stress-induced anxiety, leading to the onset of anxiety disorders, including panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder.