The idea of one nasal spray used to treat depression may seem unusual or unlikely.
Yet a group of Japanese researchers has shown the exact opposite. Their project was cleared for experimentation on humans.
It has reached an important level, and it could help countless people around the world.
Depression, the advancing enemy
Currently, it is estimated that around 17% of individuals will experience at least one depressive episode in their life. Doctors are forced to intervene, trying to reduce the impact of depression.
It is not the first time that solutions associated with the use of a nasal spray have been studied. This method allows to reach the sensitive points of the body more quickly, transmitting information directly to the brain.
In the US, the "Spravato" ketamine spray may have reduced the number of registered suicides.
A nasal spray for depression
The project was initiated by a team of researchers from Osaka University in Japan. By combining past and present information, doctors developed a solution based on antibiotics and antioxidants.
The researchers decided to exploit the respiratory epithelium like a chemical messenger, capable of addressing directly to the brain. According to what has been explained, the epithelium occupies a large part of the cells of the nasal mucosa.
The spray is thus able to easily reach its destination, making sure that the antibiotic and antioxidant transmit the correct message to the brain.
The components used for the development of the spary have been checked and used several times in the medical field. They have no serious implications and do not cause harm to the person.
For this reason, the tests have also been accepted on humans.
The start of clinical trials
The research team's starting goal wasn't exactly depression.
Initially, they aimed to prevent dementia-related neurodegeneration. The pre-clinical tests had shown positive results in reference to different forms of dementia.
On December 13, the magazine Frontiers in Neuroscience has published an article about just that study, giving us some more details.
The team's nasal spray is based on rifampicin, an antibiotic already widely used in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. The power of this substance is to reduce the accumulation of toxic proteins, responsible for the development of the disease.
After several studies, it became clear that rifampicin can prevent neurodegeneration. However, side effects on the liver prevented the administration from proceeding in men. In the form in which it was initially presented, the antibiotic was found to become excessively strong.
The development of research
This first pivotal discovery led researchers to focus on another way to deliver rifampicin.
The goal has become to identify a method capable of avoiding side effects on the liver, still reaching the brain.
Studies started later showed that administration for nasal route it avoided the occurrence of these same effects. However, the doctors wanted to make sure it wasn't problematic over the long term.
To stabilize rifampicin, the researchers added a natural antioxidant: the resveratrol.
It is a very particular antioxidant, which is also found in red wine and dark chocolate. Resveratrol has significant anti-aging properties, which have allowed the creation of a spray capable of slowing the progression of specific diseases.
During the first tests, the researchers administered the nasal spray five times a week to a group of mice.
From the first results, it emerged that the therapy was successful in blocking the accumulation of toxic proteins arriving in the brain. At the same time, the spray did not cause liver damage, which was found in previous tests.
All this made it possible to start testing on men. The United States and Japan will be the first countries to host the trials, which could help many sick people.