Medications

Repeated ketamine infusions reduce PTSD symptom severity

Repeated intravenous (IV) ketamine infusions significantly reduce symptom severity in individuals with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the improvement is rapid and maintained for several weeks afterwards, ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

New use for an old drug: How does ketamine combat depression?

A group of proteins called 4E-BPs, involved in memory formation, is the key to unlocking the antidepressant effect of ketamine in the brain, according to researchers from three Canadian universities. The discovery could lead ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

New study shows how ketamine combats depression

In low doses, the anaesthetic drug ketamine has been shown to have a rapid effect on difficult-to-treat depression. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet report that they have identified a key target for the drug: specific ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Single dose of ketamine plus talk therapy may reduce alcohol use

A single infusion of ketamine, combined with outpatient behavioral therapy, helped alcohol-dependent individuals abstain from drinking for a few weeks after the treatment, researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College ...

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Ketamine

Ketamine is a drug used in human and veterinary medicine. Its hydrochloride salt is sold as Ketanest, Ketaset, and Ketalar. Pharmacologically, ketamine is classified as an NMDA receptor antagonist. At high, fully anesthetic level doses, ketamine has also been found to bind to opioid μ receptors type 2 in cultured human neuroblastoma cells, however without agonist activity, and to sigma receptors in rats. Also, ketamine interacts with muscarinic receptors, descending monoaminergic pain pathways and voltage-gated calcium channels. Like other drugs of this class such as tiletamine and phencyclidine (PCP), it induces a state referred to as "dissociative anesthesia" and is used as a recreational drug.

Ketamine has a wide range of effects in humans, including analgesia, anesthesia, hallucinations, elevated blood pressure, and bronchodilation. Ketamine is primarily used for the induction and maintenance of general anesthesia, usually in combination with a sedative. Other uses include sedation in intensive care, analgesia (particularly in emergency medicine), and treatment of bronchospasm. It has been shown to be effective in treating depression in patients with bipolar disorder who have not responded to other anti-depressants. In persons with major depressive disorder it produces a rapid antidepressant effect, acting within two hours as opposed to the several weeks taken by typical antidepressants to work. It is also a popular anesthetic in veterinary medicine.

Ketamine is a chiral compound. Most pharmaceutical preparations of ketamine are racemic; however, some brands reportedly have (mostly undocumented) differences in enantiomeric proportions. The more active enantiomer, (S)-ketamine, is also available for medical use under the brand name Ketanest S. (R)-ketamine, (S)-ketamine & racemic (R,S)-ketamine all have qualitatively separate distinct effect profiles, although S has the most active potency. Ketamine is a core medicine in the World Health Organization's "Essential Drugs List", a list of minimum medical needs for a basic health care system.

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