A new compound known as CGP3466B has been found to be very fast-acting and effective at treating depression in mice, laying the foundation for research that could make it applicable to humans within a few years to come.
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The breakthrough study was carried out by neuroscientists from Johns Hopkins Medicine who disclosed that the compound produces fast antidepressant effects in mice within hours rather than the normal weeks or months that current antidepressants take to work effectively.
The details of the finding is to be published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
"One of the promising things about CGP3466B is that it targets a new network of proteins," said Solomon Snyder, professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
"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," Snyder added.
The compound CGP3466B had earlier been proven to block cravings for cocaine in the brains of mice. The results of the study on mice lead the researchers to ketamine, a drug that had earlier been used as an anesthetic in high doses for surgery, but found to be a very fast-acting antidepressant when used in low doses. But it is addictive when used for an extended period of time.
Exploring the possibility of understanding how ketamine acts fast as an antidepressant, the Johns Hopkins Medicine scientists established the fact that ketamine interacts with excitatory NMDA receptors on nerve cells in the brain to block their activity.
The researchers ultimately discovered that ketamine enhances the formation of proteins which also interact with nerve cells to make NMDA-blocking antidepressant function possible.
"CGP3466B works on the same network of proteins as ketamine, but since it works later in the chain reaction, it has fewer side effects," said Maged Harraz, Ph.D., a research associate and the first author of the newly published research paper.
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Having achieved optimum tests with the compound on lab mice, the researchers are positive that CGP3466B will soon be developed for human use, having been found to be non-toxic and non-addictive.