HOW DOES KETAMINE WORK | THE DISCOVERY OF A POTENTIAL ANTI-DEPRESSIVE MECHANISM

It is hard to argue against ketamine as the most promising depression treatment available today. In 70% of patients, ketamine effectively and rapidly improves depressive symptoms, even in those patients who have historically resisted other methods of treatment. Study after study shows the same thing: ketamine works, and it works significantly better than traditional antidepressants or psychotherapy. 

The problem, however, is that ketamine is still ketamine. It’s still the same club drug with hallucinogenic side effects and a reputation for recreational abuse. For years, researchers have attempted to design a new drug, modeled after the chemical composition of ketamine – a drug that works as effectively as ketamine, without the side effects or negative stigma.

This is where the other problem comes in.

The other problem is that the exact mechanism that makes ketamine such an effective depression treatment is still unknown. We suspect that ketamine works – at least in part – by blocking NDMA receptors. The possible facets of the drug’s anti-depressive mechanism are still being researched. Unfortunately, without knowing exactly how ketamine works as treatment for depression, researchers have been struggling to create the miracle antidepressant they’ve been striving for.

New hope is on the horizon, though, as a team of physiology, biophysics and psychiatry researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine have discovered a new mechanism that may answer many questions about how ketamine works. This mechanism works on G proteins in addition to NDMA receptors. For more detailed information about the study, read the Neuroscience News article, ‘Is Ketamine a Panacea For Depression.’

If researchers can come to understand how ketamine works – and can, eventually, create a similarly structured drug with a different name, different side effects, and the same impressive antidepressant results – millions of suffering individuals stand to gain immensely. 

Check back on our blog frequently for more information about how this research unfolds, as well as for other important ketamine research and news.

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