Interest in the dissociative anesthetic ketamine continues to be strong as a therapy for treatment-resistant depression and similar conditions.
But the enthusiasm surrounding the drug is likely higher than the quality of evidence supporting its use to treat severe depression.
Research into the drug’s potential to treat depression, however, is ramping up.
One small study recently published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that a single dose of the drug reduced the severity of depression in individuals with suicidal ideation.
The study administered intravenous ketamine to 39 participants and midazolam, a benzodiazepine, to another 39. Investigators administered ketamine at relatively low doses, where it did not have an anesthetic effect.
The blinded study also found that the drug made patients feel safer, and it also quickly improved neurocognition. In addition, it provided persistent therapeutic effects for up to six weeks after a single dose.
The drug seems to differ from traditional antidepressants, which can take weeks before they have a discernible effect on mood disorders.
Researchers involved in the study noted that further studies are warranted to investigate the potential risks associated with the long-term use of ketamine.
In related news, the Cleveland Clinic has received $2.5 million from the National Institutes of Health to study intravenous ketamine in conjunction with an evidence-based clinical intervention for suicide in adolescents and young adults.
The Cleveland Clinic says the study will be the first randomized trial of ketamine involving youth.
The study will provide at least three and up to six monthly infusions of ketamine.
The researchers anticipate results from the study to be available in August 2024.
Currently, ketamine only remains FDA indicated as an anesthetic agent or as a supplement to other anesthetic agents.
A related drug, esketamine from Janssen, won FDA approval in 2019 for treating drug-resistant depression and suicidality.
Filed Under: clinical trials, Drug Discovery, Psychiatric/psychotropic drugs