Northwestern University has released findings that show how quickly ketamine works, with hopes that it’ll be used to treat depression without any serious side effects.
Researchers carried out a study on mice and discovered that the effects of ketamine are felt quicker than regular anti-depressants through the increase of “ a very small number of newborn neurons”. Basically, what the ketamine does it speed up the activity of these neurons, something that’s in contrast to anti-depressant drugs which usually produce more neurons.
The effect of Ketamine is instant said lead study author and professor of neurology Dr John Kessler.
“We narrowed down the population of cells to a small window that is involved.
“That’s important because when you give ketamine to patients now, it affects multiple regions of the brain and causes a lot of adverse side effects. But since we now know exactly which cells we want to target, we can design drugs to focus only on those cells.”
According to Northwestern University there are a range of side effect that come with ketamine usage including, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, and blurred vision as well as addiction.
The Addiction Centre defines ketamine as being an anaesthetic for animals that is often used among people for recreational use. It has a sedative effect and causes someone to feel “detached from themselves and their surroundings”.
But scientists are hoping that with further research and clinical trials, they’ll be able to create a ketamine drug that is safe to use and won’t cause addiction.
“The goal is to develop an antidepressant that doesn’t take three to four weeks to work because people don’t do well during that period of time,” said Dr Kessler.
“If you are badly depressed and start taking your drug and nothing is happening, that is depressing in itself. To have something that works right away would make a huge difference.”
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare states that 0.9 per cent of the Australian population admitted to using Ketamine, with people in their 20s most likely to take the drug.