Antidepressants make you wait 6 weeks for relief of anxiety and depression. That’s 6 weeks of suicidal thinking, feelings of worthlessness, little enjoyment, disruption of appetite, loss of sleep, racing heart rate, etc. Although it is widely prescribed and used, antidepressant treatment in itself can cause more problems, like an increase in suicidal thinking, disruption of appetite and sleep, anxiety, hypertension, hyperglycemia, sexual dysfunction, nausea, etc., etc., ad nauseum (literally).
It that weren’t enough, many users of antidepressants take them for 6 to 8 weeks, only to get no beneficial effects. That’s because many people cannot derive benefits from taking antidepressants. Some physicians, drug makers, and even scientists refer to these people as treatment resistant. They’re not! They’re antidepressant resistant. “Treatment resistant” encourages us to infer that many, if not most, cases of anxiety or depression cannot be relieved by any means. “Antidepressant resistant” informs us that, because antidepressants comprise a very narrow selection of possible treatments, alternative treatments are urgently needed. And not just drugs. There should be dietetics, meditation, exercise, yoga, creative outlets, talk therapy, and as a last resort, drugs (better than what’s currently offered).
By the way, anxiolytics (anxiety breakers) aka benzodiazepines work within hours, but anxiety is a chronic ailment, as is depression. When benzodiazepines are taken long-term, they can increase susceptibility to cognitive dysfunction, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and amnesia. And don’t forget (pun intended) that “benzos” (their street name) are highly addictive, widely abused, and often sold as street drugs.
Well, if a particular antidepressant doesn’t work, you can just switch to another one, right? No expert in medicine, science, and even advertising would tell us to discontinue these or most other drugs without a doctor’s advice. Shouldn’t be a problem. After all, there are four dozen antidepressants on the market. Just pick one. Not so fast! If you want to switch, you’ll have to taper off your old med over a period of weeks, and likewise taper onto your new med. If that doesn’t work, you’ll repeat the process. Sometimes anxious or depressed people have to try three different antidepressants before finding one that suits them. In practical terms, that means a very severely depressed person could make a New Year’s resolution to get treatment, only to struggle until mid-year to find an antidepressant that works for her (about two-thirds of antidepressant and anxiolytic users are women).
Is fast relief even possible? It is! That’s if the medicine is smartly designed to act on the right system in the brain. Medicine that does not work for most people, takes 6 weeks or more to provide modest relief, has harsh side effects, and causes “brain zaps” when treatment is stopped, is not designed smartly. My startup, Akhu Therapeutics, Inc., is working smartly. We are developing a bona fide medical breakthrough. We have found that selective blockers of the melanocortin-5 receptor (MC5R) clearly outperform antidepressants in efficacy and potency.
Most relevant to this topic, however, our patent-pending MC5R blockers are much faster acting than antidepressants. How much faster? It’s not even close. We ran a battery of behavioral assays with proven animal models of anxiety or depression, in part to meet FDA requirements before testing our compounds in humans. Two of those tests typically require chronic treatment with fluoxetine (generic Prozac) or desipramine (generic Norpramin), in our conditions — about 6 weeks. Those tests are valuable because they have time frames like that of antidepressant treatment in human. We found that MC5R blockers significantly improve performances in both tests in one hour. That’s 1,000 times faster than antidepressants!
Our patent-pending MC5R blockers are 1,000 times faster than antidepressants!
Our next step, of course, is to test our most promising MC5R blocker in humans. That part of the research and development (R&D) process, clinical trials, is 1-2 years away, and like many things in business it can only get done with a big box of money. In the meantime, we’re relocating Akhu Therapeutics from College Station, Texas (where it spun out of our work at Texas A&M University) to Orange County, California. The idea behind the move is to gain access to investors and resources that are crucial for a small life sciences startup.
To become productive ASAP in our new location, we are crowdfunding early-stage R&D costs. Check out our video, “Why Wait?” to glimpse at what we’re doing to turn a ground-breaking scientific discovery into the best alternative to (or replacement for) antidepressants. Please contribute to our crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to help our efforts.