New York: A compound already proven nontoxic and nonaddictive for people may effectively and rapidly treat depression, according to a new study conducted by a team of neuroscientists, including one of Indian-origin.
The results of a study in mice by the neuroscientists from Johns Hopkins University may be good news for India, which has among the highest rates of depression in the world, with around 120 million people suffering from it.
The team's discovery came out of investigations into the workings of a different drug, ketamine, long used primarily at high doses to induce anesthesia during surgery but known, at lower doses, to be a fast-acting antidepressant.
Unfortunately, ketamine is addictive and can produce schizophrenialike symptoms, making it unsuitable for prolonged use, Solomon Snyder, professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
His team, however, hoped the new research could shed light on how to make a better fast-acting antidepressant.
Using biochemical tests on mouse neurons, the team found that CGP3466B, a compound already proven safe for people, works on the same signaling cascade and shows effects within hours.
"CGP3466B works on the same network of proteins as ketamine, but since it works later in the chain reaction, it has fewer side effects," Maged Harraz, a research associate and the first author of the research paper, said.
Indian-origin Richa Tyagi, research associate and an author of this study, told PTI: "In India, we dont consider depression as a disease or a serious issue. Unfortunately, India has always been among the top countries suffering with depression but there is not much awareness about this deadly diseases which leads to the suicides of a huge number of youngsters in India every year."
"Since CGP3466B has already been shown to be non- addictive and non-toxic in clinical trials for treating other mental disorders, it would serve as a better drug."
One of the promising things about CGP3466B is that it targets a new network of proteins, Snyder said, adding: "That means it may work in patients who are unresponsive to other types of drugs and it lays the foundation for the development of a new class of fast-acting antidepressants that target the same network."
The team is optimistic about the compound because it has already been shown to be nontoxic and nonaddictive in phase I clinical trials that explored its use for Lou Gehrig's and Parkinson's diseases, though it did not prove effective in treating those conditions.
But the researchers caution that it will take several more years to get the compound into phase II clinical trials to test its potential as an effective and safe antidepressant for people.
The findings were published as a research paper in "Molecular Psychiatry" .