Stanford University researchers have discovered that a protein called diazepam binding inhibitor (DBI) can have some of the same effects as Valium.
“Our results show for the first time that a nucleus deep in the middle of the brain generates a small protein product, or peptide, that acts just like benzodiazepines,” senior author John Huguenard explained in a press statement.
DPI is also known as ACBP, and it’s an intracellular transport protein that exists in every cell in the body. Researchers have found that in a certain part of the brain (the thalamic reticular nucleus), DPI becomes an anti-epileptic compound. It binds to the same nerve receptors in the brain as benzodiazepines, enhancing the inhibiting effect of a neurotransmitter called GABA.
The calming protein, which seems to only be generated in this region in the middle of the brain, could be key in developing anti-seizure treatments. The researchers suggest it could be used in anxiety and sleep disorders as well.