Current pharmacologic treatments for depression may be relegated to second-tier treatments within the next decade. Why? Several classes of medications with mechanisms that are different from current drugs are showing promise and could be approved as antidepressants over the next several years. We have discussed some of these drugs in previous posts, including ketamine-like drugs and neurosteroid-based medications. In addition, the possibility that psychedelic-assisted therapy has antidepressant effects is under active study. In an article published in Molecular Psychiatry, Aaron Tan and colleagues report that ezogabine, a new anticonvulsant recently approved by the FDA, may have antidepressant properties. Although the data in this article are preliminary and based on a small open-label study, the logic underlying the hypothesis is interesting. Previous studies using a mouse model of depression involving chronic social defeat discovered that some mice were susceptible to this type of stress and others were resilient. Using molecular techniques, investigators found that resilience was related to expression of a specific membrane channel called the KCNQ potassium channel, which helps regulate excitability of nerve cells. By augmenting this channel, they were able to enhance resiliency in mice. Ezogabine (also known as retigabine) acts by opening KCNQ channels. It has been… Read full this story
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