Hallucinogenic drug’s metabolite shows rapid effectiveness without side effects in mice
Ketamine, a drug that has shown promise in quickly easing depression, doesn’t actually do the job itself. Instead, depression relief comes from one of the drug’s breakdown products, a new study in mice suggests. The results, published May 4 in Nature, identify a potential depression-fighting drug that works quickly but without ketamine’s serious side effects or potential for abuse.
The discovery “could be a major turning point,” says neuroscientist Roberto Malinow of the University of California, San Diego. “I’m sure that drug companies will look at this very closely.”
Depression is a pernicious problem with few good treatments. Traditional antidepressants don’t work for everyone, and when the drugs do work, they can take weeks to kick in. Ketamine, developed in the 1960s as a sedative for people and now used commonly by veterinarians to knock out