Tranquilizer Ketamine is better known as Special K at the rave parties all around. A new report has observed positive results for it to be reformulated as an antidepressant. The research aims at producing a ketamine-like drug without its side-effects such as hallucinations.
During the embracive study, researchers noted improvements in depressed people who took the drug over just three weeks. Although the findings need to be replicated in other studies, "they do generate scientific data that will pave the way for future research," said study co-author Sanjeev Pathak, senior director of clinical development with AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, which is funding the research.
However, the safety of the drug’s long term use is still unclear. The study, published online Oct. 15 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, also provides increasing evidence that a new class of medications with similar effects to ketamine could become available, said Michael Quirk, study co-author and director of discovery and preclinical sciences with AstraZeneca.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention states that about 9 per cent of adults report depression in the US. Pharmaceutical companies are desperate to bring a new antidepressant in the market because the existing medications don’t work for everyone.
"The working rule of thumb is that a third of patients may get a response from the first treatment with an antidepressant, but a substantial proportion fail," said Dr. G. Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness. Alexander was not involved in the research.
Big questions remain regarding effectiveness, safety, long-term use, cost and side effects. The point is to capture the positive mood-altering properties without the negative side effects.
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