The neurotransmitter 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), commonly known as serotonin, promotes mood, sociability, and calmness. Conversely, serotonin reduces aggression, impulsivity, and compulsive behaviors and feelings. Common antidepressants—such as the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs, e.g. Prozac®
) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs, e.g. Cymbalta)— treat depression and related mental disorders by enhancing serotonin neurotransmission. But common antidepressants enhance serotonin neurotransmission only modestly and inconsistently across patients, which likely contribute to their modest and inconsistent antidepressant efficacy.
5-HTP is the natural rate-limiting precursor of serotonin. In experimental clinical settings, 5-HTP has shown therapeutic promise in multiple brain disorders, most notably as an “adjunctive” (add-on augmentation) therapy in depression when an antidepressant alone is inadequate in providing relief to the patient. Unfortunately, in clinical practice native 5-HTP is too short-acting and poorly absorbed to be a practical drug therapy. Evecxia Therapeutics is developing novel proprietary drug delivery technologies that enable the therapeutic properties of 5-HTP. Evecxia’s 5-HTP-based drugs will be the first drug class to amplify the production of natural brain serotonin to treat mental illnesses.