Psychology & Psychiatry

Scientists explain how ketamine vanquishes depression within hours

(Medical Xpress)—Many chronically depressed and treatment-resistant patients experience immediate relief from symptoms after taking small amounts of the drug ketamine. For a decade, scientists have been trying to explain ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

New findings on how ketamine prevents depression

The discovery that the anesthetic ketamine can help people with severe depression has raised hopes of new treatment options for the disease. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have now identified novel mechanistic ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Discovery points to ketamine's long-term antidepressant effects

Building on recent research confirming how ketamine induces rapid antidepressant action, Professor of Pharmacology Lisa Monteggia and her collaborators show how the molecular mechanism of the gene MeCP2 and associated synaptic ...

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 ...

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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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