MAR 11, 2019 2:54 PM PDT

Fast-Acting Drug For Depression

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Many individuals going through depression gain little benefit from treatments whether drugs or talk therapy. Depression represents one of the greatest unmet needs in psychiatry. Now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a fast-acting prescription antidepressant: a nasal spray version of the widely used anesthetic drug ketamine.

A colored positron emission tomography scan of the brain of a depressed person, highlighting regions (in red) where blood flow and metabolic activity are unusually low. CreditWDCN/Univ. College London, via Science Source.

“Thank goodness we now have something with a different mechanism of action than previous antidepressants,” said Dr. Erick Turner, a former F.D.A. reviewer and an associate professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University. “But I’m skeptical of the hype, because in this world it’s like Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown: Each time we get our hopes up, the football gets pulled away.”

The newly approved fast-acting drug, now called esketamine, will bring on a shift from the Prozac era of antidepressant drugs. The spray was developed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., a branch of Johnson & Johnson, and will be marketed under the name Spravato.

“These are exciting times, for sure,” said Dr. Todd Gould, an associate professor of psychiatry in the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “We have drugs that work rapidly to treat a very severe illness.”

Spravato (esketamine) “works in a different way than traditional antidepressants,” with results in a matter of hours.

Credit: Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Esketamine provides renewed hope in treating serious mood problems. Current drug treatments, like Prozac and similar drugs, work to enhance the activity of brain chemical like messengers like serotonin—however, these drugs take weeks or even months for their effects to be felt.

“We’ve had nothing new in 30 years,” said Steven Hollon, a professor of psychiatry and behavior sciences at Vanderbilt University. “So if this drug is an effective way to get a more rapid response in people who are treatment resistant, and we can use it safely, then it could be a godsend.”

Learn more:

Source: NY Times

About the Author
  • Nouran earned her BS and MS in Biology at IUPUI and currently shares her love of science by teaching. She enjoys writing on various topics as well including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
You May Also Like
SEP 19, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Novel Drug Delivery System for Neurological Diseases
SEP 19, 2020
Novel Drug Delivery System for Neurological Diseases
Scientists at Rutgers have developed a smart drug delivery system that targets inflammation in damaged nerves and helps ...
SEP 30, 2020
Cancer
Chemokines Could be the Key in Controlling Glioma Stem Cells
SEP 30, 2020
Chemokines Could be the Key in Controlling Glioma Stem Cells
The transformation of a healthy cell into a cancerous one often comes with a slew of cellular signaling changes.  T ...
OCT 01, 2020
Immunology
Immune Cells and MS: The Good, the Bad, and the Maybe
OCT 01, 2020
Immune Cells and MS: The Good, the Bad, and the Maybe
Much like electrical wires that are encased in plastic insulating sheaths, nerve cells also are also surrounded by a sim ...
OCT 12, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
In vitro glycoengineering - Suitability for BioPharma manufacturing
OCT 12, 2020
In vitro glycoengineering - Suitability for BioPharma manufacturing
Introduction The importance of Fc glycosylation of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) with regard to biological activity is wi ...
OCT 09, 2020
Technology
Deep Learning Advances Drug Design
OCT 09, 2020
Deep Learning Advances Drug Design
Computational data is advancing all areas of medicine and pharmaceutical drug development is certainly no exception. &nb ...
NOV 03, 2020
Cardiology
A New Peptide Could Help Repair and Protect the Heart During Ischemia Reperfusion Injury
NOV 03, 2020
A New Peptide Could Help Repair and Protect the Heart During Ischemia Reperfusion Injury
Cardiovascular disease is one of the most common causes of death in the world. Although we have many treatments against ...
Loading Comments...