The influence of ketamine on drug discovery in depression

Drug Discov Today. 2019 Oct;24(10):2033-2043. doi: 10.1016/j.drudis.2019.07.007. Epub 2019 Aug 2.


Recent research demonstrating that the glutamatergic modulator ketamine has rapid, robust, and sustained antidepressant effects has been a turning point in drug discovery for depression. The recent FDA approval of esketamine for adults with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (MDD) has further underscored the relevance of this agent in spurring investigation into novel and mechanistically distinct agents for use in depression. Over the past two decades, ketamine research has ushered in a new wave of studies seeking to not only identify its mechanism of action but also to examine the antidepressant potential of novel or repurposed agents. This article reviews the approaches that have proven particularly fruitful for the field of neuropsychiatry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Depression / drug therapy*
  • Drug Discovery / methods*
  • Drug Repositioning / methods*
  • Hallucinogens / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Ketamine / therapeutic use*


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Hallucinogens
  • Ketamine