Nasal spray offers new type of treatment for depression

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Washington: A nasal spray that delivers a peptide to treat depression could be a potential alternative therapeutic approach, according to researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

In a previous study published in Nature Medicine in 2010, study leader Dr. Fang Liu developed a protein peptide that provided a highly targeted approach to treating depression that she hopes will have minimal side effects.

The peptide was just as effective in relieving symptoms when compared to a conventional antidepressant in animal testing.

However, the peptide had to be injected into the brain. Taken orally, it would not cross the blood-brain barrier in sufficient concentrations.

"Clinically, we needed to find a non-invasive, convenient method to deliver this peptide treatment," Dr. Liu, Senior Scientist in the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at CAMH, said.

With the support of a Proof of Principle grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Dr. Liu's team was able to further explore novel delivery methods.

The nasal delivery system, developed by US company Impel NeuroPharma, was shown to deliver the peptide to the right part of the brain. It also relieved depression-like symptoms in animals.

"This study marks the first time a peptide treatment has been delivered through nasal passageways to treat depression," Dr. Liu, Professor in the University of Toronto's Department of Psychiatry, said.

The study is published online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.