New research from the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) reveals a nasal spray that could soon be considered a new treatment for those suffering from depression.
The protein peptide, first developed in 2010 by molecular neuroscientist Fang Liu, Ph.D, proved to be just as effective in relieving symptoms as a conventional antidepressent when tested on animals; however, the peptide needs to be injected into the brain to work, thus the nasal spray.
“Clinically, we needed to find a non-invasive, convenient method to deliver this peptide treatment,” Dr. Liu said.
Dr. Liu and her team received a Proof of Principle grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) which enabled them to explore different delivery methods. That is when the nasal spray idea surfaced.
The nasal system, developed by Impel NeuroPharm, was shown to deliver the peptide to the correct area of the brain, interfering with the binding of two dopamine receptors which lead to depression. The higher the binding, the greater the depression.
“This study marks the first time a peptide treatment has been delivered through nasal passageways to treat depression,” said Dr. Liu.
17.5 million Americans suffer from depression, 9.2 million of them from clinical depression, with women being at the top of the risk list. Sadly, two-thirds of those suffering do not seek the necessary treatment. But for those who do, over 50 percent do not respond to first line medication treatments.
"Maybe," she said, "it has to do with increased awareness of mental illness — better psychiatric outreach, or more people writing advice columns in the local papers. But maybe people are just more frustrated."
This problem isn't just centered on Americans. Mental illness has increased worldwide. In fact, the World Health Organization reports that by 2020 depression will be the second most prevalent medical condition in the world.
Dr. Liu and her team are continuing their experiments to determine if they can make her developed peptide break down more slowly and travel more quickly in the brain.
“This research," she said, "brings us one step closer to clinical trials."
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