This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

High Hopes for Ketamine Depression Treatments

Stocks in this article: JNJ RHHBY AZN

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Ketamine -- a drug used in anesthesia -- is making a lot of patients happy with its ability to treat depression, although it hasn't been approved by the Food Drug and Administration for that use.

Three recent positive studies, including a small one last week, should spur more research into ketamine and boost the already fast-growing, off-label infusion business.

Clubgoers have long used the street version, dubbed Special K, and veterinarians have used it as an anesthetic for decades. But does a recreational drug and horse tranquilizer really have potential as an effective treatment for one of the toughest, and most common, psychiatric illnesses out there? Recent history says possibly.

In fact, the FDA is encouraging development of this medication, granting fast-track status for some ketamine-like drug candidates. And desperate, treatment-resistant patients are lining up for one-hour infusions in doctors' offices all over the country.

Just how does ketamine work for depression? The theory is that it may block the effects of the neurotransmitter glutamate, on N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, in the brain, somehow triggering intracellular pathways to create more synaptic connections. Restoring these connections may ease depression. It is as good a theory as any; scientists don't really fully understand how any antidepressants work.

Drug companies are making a play, but their versions of ketamine are years away from the clinic and not without recent failure. AstraZeneca (AZN) had an NMDA channel blocker in phase II trials that was pulled after disappointing results.

Development is speeding up, however. Last month, the FDA gave Naurex, a small drug-development company, fast-track status for its ketamine-like drug, an infusion in Phase II trials.

Last November, Cerecor, another small privately held biopharmaceutical company, also got fast-track status from the FDA for its depression treatment in Phase II trials.

1 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 18,053.71 +23.50 0.13%
S&P 500 2,088.77 +6.89 0.33%
NASDAQ 4,806.8590 +33.3870 0.70%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs