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Fast-Acting Antidepressant Deemed Safe, Effective

Monday, 31 December 2012 09:59 AM

A fast-acting experimental antidepressant has been found to be both effective and safe — producing fewer negative side effects than similar medications — according to a new clinical trial conducted by the National Institutes of Health.
The drug, called AZD6765, acts in the same way on the brain as the antidepressant ketamine to improve treatment-resistant patients' depression symptoms in minutes, but without the negative side effects.
Unlike existing antidepressants, which work through the brain's serotonin system and take weeks to work, AZD6765 and ketamine act quickly through a different chemical messaging system in the brain glutamate. Fast-acting antidepressants could offer a significant benefit to severely depressed patients, who can be at high risk for suicide.
Ketamine takes only hours to be effective, but can cause serious side-effects, including hallucinations.
"Our findings serve as a proof of concept that we can tap into an important component of the glutamate pathway to develop a new generation of safe, rapid-acting practical treatments for depression," said Carlos Zarate, M.D., of the NIH's National Institute of Mental Health, which conducted the research, published online in the journal Biological Psychiatry.
Dr. Zarate’s research found that about 32 percent of 22 treatment-resistant depressed patients given ASD6765 experienced improvements in symptoms with 80 minutes with the benefits lasting two days for some. By contrast, 52 percent of patients receiving ketamine had a comparable response, with effects lasting seven days.
Although a single treatment with ketamine produced stronger and more sustained improvement, the results showed depression rating scores were significantly better among patients who received AZD6765 than in those who received inactive dummy placebos. In addition, patients reported only minor side effects from AZD6765, such as dizziness and nausea.
Dr. Zarate and colleagues will now conduct follow up tests to determine if repeated treatments with AZD6765 or higher doses might produce longer-lasting results.

© HealthDay

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An experimental antidepressant that acts within minutes has been found to be both effective and safe.
Monday, 31 December 2012 09:59 AM
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