By Ayelet Shaked and Liat Ben Zion, The Jerusalem TimesA pharmaceutical company is exploring the potential for an anxiety medication to treat depression.
Anxiety medication, known as lithium-type compounds, have been around for decades, but it is only recently that doctors have begun to study them and test them on people suffering from depression.
The drug is designed to work by lowering blood pressure and increasing blood flow to the brain, and it is not a drug to treat physical ailments like arthritis.
However, the brain can respond to lithium, which is a neurotransmitter, by producing serotonin, a chemical linked to feelings of well-being.
Lithium-type substances are designed to lower blood pressure by blocking serotonin in the brain and can also help alleviate anxiety and depression.
But, unlike other medications that treat the same problem, these drugs are designed for long-term use, rather than as a short-term treatment.LITHIUM-TYPE COMPOUNDS”We are exploring the possibility of using lithium-based medications in depression,” said Avraham Shmueli, chief executive officer of Mediscience.com, a division of the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, which develops the drug.
“Our clinical trials are underway.
We’re not ready to talk about the use of this in patients.”
Shmuel, a former head of the Jewish University’s psychiatry department, said he believes the potential uses of lithium-related compounds in depression should not be overstated.
“The brain doesn’t become depressed in the long term, it’s the depression itself that causes the depression,” he said.
“In a way, depression is an emotional state, which doesn’t disappear after a couple of days.
There’s still a very active depressive process that’s happening.
But there is a certain threshold that happens that stops the depressive process and makes it less severe.”
He added that the drug, which has not been approved by the FDA, could potentially help alleviate depression in some patients.
In recent years, researchers have been exploring the use and benefits of the medication, which can be prescribed in tablet form or taken by mouth.
Shmulei said that although the company is still exploring how to incorporate lithium-like compounds into the treatment of depression, its initial results indicate that the compounds can be useful.
“Our clinical studies have shown that lithium-induced antidepressant responses can be prolonged, which suggests that it may have therapeutic benefits,” he explained.
In the meantime, Shmuleis hopes to develop the drug for clinical trials within the next year or two.
“This is the first time in a long time that we have a treatment for depression that has been tested in humans, with real-world evidence of the therapeutic effects,” he added.
The development of the drug follows recent research into how to treat brain tumors.
The pharmaceutical company, Mediscient, has partnered with the American Cancer Society to conduct a pilot study that will involve using the drug in brain cancer patients.
The study will also look at the safety of the new drug in humans with a large number of brain tumors and other conditions.
The trial is being conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and the University Medical Center Zurich.
For more information on depression, see the National Center for Health Statistics website: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/index.htm The American Psychiatric Association: http:/ / www.apa.org/ For more news on psychiatry, see: http: / www .apa .org/news/about-psychiatry/about/index-eng.html