Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ketamine-Related Compound Studied for Antidepressant Properties

Ketamine, which was originally approved as an anesthetic and later often used as a street drug, ultimately was found to have significant antidepressant properties. Those effects took hold within hours and lasted for days, compared with the several weeks that standard antidepressant drugs like SSRIs can take to start working. Despite potential benefits, however, ketamine also produced serious side effects such as sedation or hallucinations and was open to abuse.

Now researchers have found that a compound related to ketamine called GLYX-13 produces similar antidepressant effects but without the undesirable side effects. In studies using rats, GLYX-13 enhanced memory and learning and had antidepressant-like effects without the side effects, said Northwestern University molecular neurobiologist Joseph Moskal, Ph.D., and colleagues in last month’s Neuropsychopharmacology. The work was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

The compound may work by triggering a sequence that leads to increased communication between neurons, they suggested. Phase 2 clinical trials are now exploring dosing levels in patients who have failed other antidepressant treatments, said Moskal.

To learn more about ketamine's antidepressant effects, see Psychiatric News here.

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