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A private biotech tech company is ready to test a once-daily pill designed to relieve depression symptoms within 24 hours.
The company, called Naurex, has already tested a single intravenous shot of the same drug with excellent results. The study participants experienced no side-effects from the shot, and it was significantly more effective than a placebo in decreasing depressive symptoms.
Since current SSRI (serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressants take about six weeks to bring relief, a drug that works in 24 hours will be revolutionary. It may also help the millions of people whose symptoms continue after trying various SSRI antidepressants.
The Naurex compound takes a different biochemical brain pathway than SSRI medications such as Paxil (paroxetine) or Zoloft (sertraline). The new drug works with the brain’s NMDA receptor, important for the creation of synaptic messaging and memories.
Researchers earlier found that ketamine, an anesthesia, blocks the NMDA receptor. This blocking action triggers a reduction of depression symptoms. Ketamine can also cause hallucinations and is sold on the street as “Special K,” a well-known party drug.
Several pharmaceutical companies have been working on antidepressant compounds that interact with the NMDA receptor without causing hallucinations. The Naurex drug, with the unassuming name of NRX-1074, does this by stimulating the NMDA receptor instead of blocking it.
Participants in the recent Naurex study were diagnosed with major depressive disorder and 72 percent had a clinically significant response to the drug. None of them were cured, but after 24 hours went from having severe symptoms to mild ones.
Other study results:
Individuals who reported having suicidal thoughts were not admitted into the drug trial for safety purposes.
Photo credit: @Doug88888 / flickr creative commons
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