‘Special K’ metabolite may provide a new drug to treat depression

The drug ketamine (a club drug sometimes called ‘Special K’) is legally used as an animal tranquilliser and illegally used to get high. Recent work has shown it also has a antidepressant effect. Ketamine works quickly to lift mood, in hours rather than weeks or months, unlike currently available medications. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) along with the antidepressant effect there’s also the ‘high’ – dissociation and sensory disorder – that can be addictive.

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1493097
                               Ketamine             (Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1493097)

New research [1] [2] by Todd Gould, a neuroscientist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore and a team of clinicians, analytical chemists, and neurophysiologists, using mice, has shown that it’s not the ketamine itself that is the antidepressant but it’s metabolite (2R,6R)-hydroxynorketamine.



This derivative is free from the side-effects of ketamine and seems to be non-addictive (in mice). The molecule stimulates a set of receptors called AMPA receptors, although the exact target and mechanism is not yet known. If the same is true for humans then (2R,6R)-hydroxynorketamine could be a very promising avenue for further research and drug development. Further work is needed and safety data must be collected before clinical trials in humans can begin.



[1] http://www.nature.com/news/how-club-drug-ketamine-fights-depression-1.19862#/b1

[2] http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature17998.html                    Abstract only – full paper behind a paywall


Regular reviews will return from Saturday, I’m still recovering from my cold and I’ve been busy with life in general in the last week. My compensation arrived and I’ve treat myself to a few books, including ‘Fifty Shades of Feminism’ an anthology of feminist writers, and a book about Sylvia Pankhurst, which may or may not get reviews. So my pleasure reading is getting in the way of my reviewing reading. This is a good thing, it’s been a long time since a I read a book I’ve bought because I want to read it rather than a book I’ve been sent to review.


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R Cawkwell

Hi I'm Rosemarie and I like to write. I write short stories and longer fiction, poetry and occasionally articles. I'm working on quite a few things at the minute and wouldn't mind one day actually getting published in print.

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