China's ketamine research shines light on antidepression

Source: Xinhua| 2018-02-15 20:09:05|Editor: Lifang
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HANGZHOU, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- The latest issue of the international science journal Nature published Thursday carried two research articles by Chinese scientists on antidepression.

In one article, scientists discovered to how the anaesthetic painkiller ketamine worked to block the neuronal activity that drives depression-like behavior. It may help scientists develop new and much safer antidepressants.

"Doctors often use a low dose of ketamine to treat depression patients, which have showed curative effects on 70 percent of the patients," said Hu Hailan, who led the research on ketamine blocking bursting in the lateral habenula to rapidly relieve depression.

His team has found where the drug works in brain neurons to induce the antidepressant effect in lab rat experiments.

The neuroscientist at the Zhejiang University School of Medicine based in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, said that although ketamine had a curative effect, it was still an anaesthetic substance used as a narcotic. The molecular targets that the team found could help develop more effective and safer antidepressants.

The other research paper, which Hu was also involved with, suggested the enhanced bursting activity of neurons in the brain was essential in driving depression-like behavior.

There are some 300 million people worldwide suffering from depression, which can be accompanied by an altered appetite and unhealthy sleep patterns. Major depression is classified as a mood disorder.