In a ray of hope for people suffering from depression, researchers have identified a compound that may treat depression just as effectively as the psychoactive drug ketamine without the unwanted side effects associated with it.
The compound hydroxynorketamine (HNK) produces the same beneficial effects attributed to ketamine without its unwanted side effects, a new research showed.
“The clinical use of ketamine therapy for depression is limited because the drug is administered intravenously and may produce adverse effects such as hallucinations and sedation to the point of anaesthesia,” said Irving Wainer, a senior investigator from the National Institute on Aging in the US.
“We found that the HNK compound counters depressive symptoms but it does not cause sedation as in the case of ketamine.
“It makes HNK an attractive alternative as an anti-depressant in humans,” Wainer noted.
In the study, researchers examined the effects of intravenous doses of ketamine, HNK and another compound produced by ketamine metabolism known as norketamine in brains of rats.
They found that the compound HNK, like ketamine, not only produced potent and rapid anti-depressant effects but also stimulated neuro-regenerative pathways and initiated the re-growth of neurons in rats’ brains.
Surprisingly, HNK was also found to reduce the production of D-serine – a chemical found in the body whose over-production is associated with neuro-degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
The use of HNK can also serve as a future therapeutic approach to treat neuro-degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, said the study that appeared in the Journal of Anaesthesiology.