A new study published today in Nature reports on the chemical reaction that makes Ketamine, often used as an animal tranquilizer, an effective antidepressant. Researchers on the rave drug known as “Vitamin K” demonstrated that
“clinical trials by Zarate and others have shown that ketamine can lift depression in hours, or even minutes – much faster than the most commonly used antidepressant medications now available, which often require weeks to take effect. Further, the antidepressant effects of a single dose can last for a week or longer.”
The authors of the study were quick to note that “despite legitimate medical uses, ketamine also has dissociative, euphoric, and addictive properties, making it a potential drug of abuse and limiting its usefulness as a depression medication.”
Among the known side effects of Ketamine are difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, and death.
The research pointed to a new direction in the treatment of depression rather than Selective Serotonin re-Uptake inhibitors (SSRI) or Serotonin-norepinephrone reuptake inhibitors (SNRI) that are the basis for current antidepressants. The scientists experimented with glutamate, which Ketamine interacts with:
“Ketamine belongs to a class of drugs that block cellular receptors for glutamate, the brain’s chief excitatory chemical messenger. Until now, the prevailing view was that ketamine produced its antidepressant effects by blocking N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) glutamate receptors.”
While research is continuing, the study’s authors, who included scientists from the National Institute for Aging (NIA), were hopeful that a new class of antidepressants will aid those who suffer from the effects of depression in the future.
“Unraveling the mechanism mediating ketamine’s antidepressant activity is an important step in the process of drug development,” said Richard J. Hodes, M.D., NIA director. “New approaches are critical for the treatment of depression, especially for older adults and for patients who do not respond to current medications.”