Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine found a new anti-depressive drug that works totally different from the commonly prescribed antidepressants. Antidepressants like Cipralex or Prozac are also known as SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). Meaning, they are influencing the levels of the neurotransmitter (way of communication between nerve cells) Serotonin.
The new drug should influence another neurotransmitter system, the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) system. To be more specific, the drug effects only a small part of the GABAa-Receptor, called α5 subunits. These receptors are located in specific regions of the brain, the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.
Professor Scott Thompson, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, claims 2 big advantages of the new drug compared to others:
It works fast! While other Antidepressants are taking weeks to kick in, the new drug should work within one day. Especially in the treatment of suicidal patients this could be important.
It has less side effects than other rapid antidepressants (ketamin) as it affects only a specific subunit of the GABA receptor.
Professor Scott Thompson says “Our results open up a whole new class of potential antidepressant medications. We have evidence that these compounds can relieve the devastating symptoms of depression in less than one day, and can do so in a way that limits some of the key disadvantages of current approaches.”
However, the study was an animal study. If the results are applicable to humans is still part of the research.
Professor Thompson “It will now be tremendously exciting to find out whether they produce similar effects in depressed patients. If these compounds can quickly provide relief of the symptoms of human depression, such as suicidal thinking, it could revolutionize the way patients are treated.”
The study was published in Neuropsychopharmacology