New drugs to treat depression are needed because many existing antidepressants don’t work in up to 50% of patients. The new created BU10119 works in a different way to the most common antidepressant drugs, blocking receptors called kappa opioid receptors. Blocking these receptors has been shown to have anti-depressant like effects in mice.
Dr Sarah Bailey, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology at the University of Bath, said: “I’m really quite excited by the potential of this compound. Developing new medicines is why I got into pharmacology and, in 20 years of research, this is the closest I have come to a new compound that might translate towards the clinic. It’s promising, but that said, we are still at an early stage.” The researchers were inspired to develop the compound after previous University of Bath research showed that a combination of two existing drugs, buprenorphine and naltrexone, had potential as an antidepressant.” Another researcher, Professor Stephen Husbands, Head of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Bath added: “By combining the effects of both drugs in one molecule we hope that a safe and effective drug will eventually be the outcome. BU10119 is part of a series of compounds now licensed to and under development with Orexigen Therapeutics.”