More than 14 million Americans suffer from clinical depression, yet one in three doesn’t experience relief from approved antidepressant drugs.
A recent study from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and elsewhere have found a new treatment approach involving drugs called neurosteroids.
The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine. One author is Charles F. Zorumski, MD, the Samuel B. Guze Professor.
Neurosteroids occur naturally in the brain and help regulate and modulate the activity of brain cells, but similar molecules also can be synthesized in the laboratory.
They target different receptors in the brain than currently available antidepressants and appear to relieve symptoms more quickly than traditional antidepressants.
In the study, the team studied 89 patients—45 of whom were randomly chosen to receive a neurosteroid called SAGE-217, while the other 44 received an inactive placebo.
They found the new drug reduced symptoms of depression in less than two weeks.
The team says the speed at which SAGE-217 is heading toward clinical use is remarkable.
Another neurosteroid drug developed by Sage already has been approved for clinical use.
The intravenous drug Zulresso (brexanalone) was approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat women suffering from serious postpartum depression.
The team says the new development of neurosteroids may help treat depression effectively and possibly other psychiatric illnesses.
In the future, the team plans to evaluate neurosteroids in patients whose depression has not been relieved by other drugs because that’s where they could see the greatest impact.
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