Give Now

Scientist Develops Nasal Spray To Reduce Suicides

Michael Kubek

Photo: Courtesy of Indiana University

Michael Kubek was given a $3 million grant to further his research

An Indiana University scientist is helping develop a nasal spray intended to curb suicides among members of the military.

A $3 million defense department grant will back IU neurobiologist Michael Kubek’s work on a fast-acting anti-depressant called thyrotropin-reducing hormone, or TRH.

Standard anti-depressants can take between four and six weeks to stabilize a person. Kubek says TRH can act within hours.  The problem, he says, is delivering the drug to the brain.

“By simply breathing in the nose, we’ve shown by preclinical data that we can actually target certain areas of the brain that are associated with this particular type of illness,” he says.

Kubek says part of the delivery challenge is the blood-brain barrier, a physical and chemical wall that stops most things from getting to the brain itself.  A key focus of Kubek’s research involves developing a vehicle for the drug, called nanoparticles, which can get the anti-depressant past the blood-brain barrier.

“It’s kind of like a lollipop. There’s a center and as the lollipop melts, it delivers the drug,” he says.

Kubek says if nanoparticle development is successful and clinical trials go well, he hopes to have the drug available to the military in three or four years.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.