Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Strategy For Developing Fast-acting Antidepressants

Date:
December 10, 2007
Source:
American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
Summary:
Researchers may be able to develop an antidepressant which takes effect almost immediately by directly targeting novel molecules in the brain instead of taking a less direct route, which can lead to longer times for medication to take effect, according to a new study.

Researchers may be able to develop an antidepressant which takes effect almost immediately by directly targeting novel molecules in the brain instead of taking a less direct route, which can lead to longer times for medication to take effect, according to a new study presented at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology annual meeting. The antidepressant is also thought to be effective in people for whom previous treatments have been ineffective. This human and rodent research is among the first to examine the effects of rapid antidepressant strategies.

Lead researcher and ACNP member Husseini Manji, M.D., director of the mood and anxiety disorders program at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), says one of the major limitations in existing pharmacological treatments for major depression is the time between starting to take the medication, and when it starts to alleviate the depression, often a period of one month or longer. He adds that strategies that work at much faster rates would have a tremendous impact for Americans who suffer from depression -- nearly 21 million annually, according to NIMH.

"Today's antidepressant medications eventually end up doing the same thing, but they go about it the long way around, with a lot of biochemical steps that take time. Now we've shown what the key targets are and that we can get at them rapidly," says Dr. Manji. "This research is leading to some very real possibilities for a whole new generation of antidepressant medications."

The study looked at patients in a "difficult to treat" group, meaning individuals who had not responded to other treatments including psychotherapy, traditional antidepressants or electroconvulsive therapy. This group did not attempt all treatment options, like medication. Researchers treated the depressed patients intravenously with ketamine, a general anesthetic usually used for minor surgical procedures in which muscle relaxation is not required. The doses of ketamine used in this study were considerably lower than when it is used as an anesthetic.

Ketamine produced results much more quickly than traditional antidepressants because it acted directly upon critical molecules in important neuronal circuits instead of having to bypass multiple locations en route to those circuits. Typically, currently available antidepressant medications work via serotonin or norepinephrine, neurotransmitters which act within the brain to help regulate emotion and cognition.

The results showed that patients responded after only two hours, and within 24 hours, 70% had responded. Patients were followed over time, and 35% maintained their response for up to one week. Traditional antidepressants usually take many weeks, or even months, to begin to work. "This is intriguing data which suggests that targeting these important molecules in critical circuits would be extremely helpful in treating depression more quickly, before it worsens and becomes more severe," Dr. Manji said.

The researchers also studied rodents to determine whether they could get medication to highly responsive brain areas more quickly. By looking at different biomarkers -- specific physical features used to measure the progress of a disease or condition -- in mice and rats, researchers came closer to identifying at what point in the biochemical process medication might become effective, which would ultimately lead to faster treatment.

Treating patients with rapid strategies is essential since some patients who suffer from depression are tempted to stop their medication if it doesn't work quickly enough.

Ongoing human studies using magnetoencephalography (MEG) are also helping to identify the specific brain circuits through which these rapid antidepressant effects occur. Identifying these precise circuits may lead to the development of molecules with even more precise effects, and therefore fewer side effects.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. "New Strategy For Developing Fast-acting Antidepressants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 December 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071208092508.htm>.
American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. (2007, December 10). New Strategy For Developing Fast-acting Antidepressants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071208092508.htm
American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. "New Strategy For Developing Fast-acting Antidepressants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071208092508.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The brains of artists aren't really left-brain or right-brain, but rather have extra neural matter in visual and motor control areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins