Tags: marker | ketamine | depressed

Advance Reported in Depression Treatment

Tuesday, 14 August 2012 02:43 PM

Federal scientists have discovered a biomarker that may help to identify which depressed patients will benefit most from an experimental, fast-acting antidepressant. The brain signal, detected by imaging, also holds clues to the agent's underlying mechanisms and could be vital for new drug development.
National Institutes of Health researchers, who made the discovery, said the signal is among the latest of several such markers – including factors detectable in blood, genetic markers, and a sleep-specific brain wave – uncovered by NIH that illuminate the workings of the agent, called ketamine, and may hold promise for more personalized treatment.
"These clues help focus the search for the molecular targets of a future generation of medications that will lift depression within hours instead of weeks," said Dr. Carlos Zarate, of the NIH's National Institute of Mental Health. "The more precisely we understand how this mechanism works, the more narrowly treatment can be targeted to achieve rapid antidepressant effects and avoid undesirable side effects."
Zarate and colleagues, who detailed their findings in the journal Biological Psychiatry, noted previous studies have shown ketamine can ease symptoms of depression within hours in many patients, but is not tolerated by some patients. So they sought to determine factors that might offer clues to predict which patients would benefit most from its use.
To understand ketamine's workings, the NIMH team conducted multiple studies, some of which involved monitoring depressed patients' brain activity after an infusion of ketamine.
Among their findings: Ketamine produced the fastest, strongest and longest-lasting response ever seen in depressed patients – as little as 40 minutes after a single dose. They also confirmed that ketamine not only eases depression, but also reduces suicidal thoughts in some bipolar patients.
Among about 163 patients who have been studied to date, the drug has been well tolerated and seems a “reasonable treatment option” for most treatment-resistant depressed patients, said the researchers.
"We are investigating ketamine in multiple ways – studying genes, gene expression, synapses, cells, circuits, and symptoms with neuroimaging, genetics, electrophysiological measures and other techniques," explained Zarate. "These studies hold hope for predicting the likelihood of response and for gaining insights into mechanisms of action."

© HealthDay

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Scientists discover a biomarker to identify patients who will benefit most from new antidepressants.
Tuesday, 14 August 2012 02:43 PM
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