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Horse Tranquilizers Could Be Better Alternative To Antidepressants

Update Date: May 07, 2016 07:19 AM EDT

There are various means to address depression but so far much have come with side effects. But if researchers are able to succeed in somehow modifying a drug that is more commonly used as a tranquilizer for horses, this class B drug previously banned in the UK could come in handy for people dealing with the condition.

Ketamine is the drug in mention. The drug was banned in the UK back in 2006 and was categorized as a class B drug in 2014. It is best known as a horse tranquilizer by vets though it is also known as something that folks use in clubs to avoid date-rape scenarios.

Initial trials showed that the drug can indeed aid depression faster compared to other drugs but the problem is that it created some addictive properties that technically makes it an illegal drug. To best explain this occurrence, researchers dug deep to see what was the cause of such. It turns out the problem lies not solely on Ketamine but on a chemical that it gives off once the body takes it in and relieve themselves of depression. The findings were arrived at following an experiment involving mice.

“This discovery fundamentally changes our understanding of how this rapid antidepressant mechanism works and holds promise for development of more robust and safer treatments,” explains Dr. Carlos Zarate. He adds: “Researchers were able to reverse-engineer ketamine''s workings from the clinic to the lab to pinpoint what makes it so unique.”

With the reason (metabolite) identified, doctors are now trying to figure a way to isolate the good effects from the harmful ones and see if such could be effective in humans and lead to improve therapeutics.

If they are successful, this breakthrough should be key to the ones looking to overcome depression with side effects on the side. Dr. James Stone, a clinical senior lecture at King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry Psychology and Neuroscience, however cautioned that clinical trials on patients suffering from depression will still be a need.

Apparently one facet that doctors want to address is abuse of the drug which may see people taking in repeated dosages.

“These findings are in mice, so it still remains to be seen if they translate to humans. We also do not know the exact way in which this metabolite works, rather we know how it doesn't work. So much work needs to be done before we get to the stage of testing such a drug in humans,” said professor Celia Morgan of the Exeter University's psychology department.

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