Antidepressants are nothing new, but the US Army is looking into a new way of delivering the drugs to where it's needed in the body. And that's why they gave the University of Indiana $US3 million to work on an anti-suicide nasal spray.
The active ingredient here is something called thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), and it's already shown promise in preventing suicides. The problem is figuring out how to get the stuff into the brain. TRH is able to help with suicidal urges, depression and bipolar disorder, but the only effective way to treat people right now involves a painful spinal tap. Nobody wants a spinal tap — especially people who are depressed and suicidal.
Recent breakthroughs in nanoparticle delivery systems have pointed to the human nose as a possible entry point. The US Army has offered the funding (a pittance by military standards) to Indiana's Dr Michael Kubek to help the process along. If the spray works, it would be the most convenient and fast-acting antidepressant delivery mechanism on the market.
Medical director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Dr Ken Duckworth, sees promise in the concept. He told The Daily:
"This is a brilliant idea. It would solve one of the biggest problems we have with medication used today. It might work, but it doesn't work fast enough. ...The nasal spray would stabilise them right away, while they wait for the [antidepressants] to do their job."
If you can't stop soldiers (or civilians) from having suicidal urges in the first place, giving them an easy way to deal with trauma is the next best solution. Taking a little mist up the nose is way better than doing yourself in. [The Daily via Business Insider]