The new drug reduced symptoms within hours, has a good safety profile and produces positive effects that last for about seven days from a single dose.
Researchers say the new medication targets brain receptors involved in learning and memory — a distinctly different approach from existing antidepressants.
The results of the phase IIa clinical trial were presented at the 51st Annual Meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology in Hollywood, Fla.
The medication, a compound called GLYX-13, is the result of more than two decades of work by Joseph Moskal, Ph.D., research professor of biomedical engineering at Northwestern University.
“Our study showed that this compound is capable of eliciting a robust and rapid antidepressant effect without the typical side effects seen with other drugs that also modulate the NMDA receptor,” said Moskal.
Currently, GLYX-13 is administered intravenously although scientists are working on an oral drug with similar properties and potential.
In clinical trials administered at 12 sites across the country, a single dose of GLYX-13 resulted in significant reductions in depression symptoms among subjects who had shown little improvement with previous drugs. (Subjects had failed treatment with one or more antidepressant agents.)
The positive effects of GLYX-13 were evident within 24 hours and lasted an average of seven days. Side effects of GLYX-13 were mild to moderate and were consistent with those observed in subjects receiving a placebo.
GLYX-13 is a partial agonist of the NMDA receptor whose antidepressant effects can last up to two weeks. It is currently undergoing Phase II clinical trials by its manufacturer, Naurex.
A paper reporting some of the background scientific research that provided the foundation for the clinical development of GLYX-13 is found in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.
Source: Northwestern University