Lithium, one of the oldest, most widely used and effective drug used to treat bipolar disorder, both acutely and in the long-term is known to prevent mania (and to a lesser extent depression) and reduce the risk of suicide in bipolar patients. It also has a role in ‘unipolar’ depression where it is employed as a combination therapy with other antidepressants. All-in-all Lithium has made a major contribution to making life more bearable for those living with bipolar disorder
However, despite the ‘good news story’ that is Lithium therepy, clinicians and patients are very cognizant of one major drawback – its toxicity. Put simply, overdoses can be fatal and long-term usage can have negative side-effects.
In a continued effort to find a safer form of lithium, researchers at the University of South Florida (USF) have discovered that lithium salicylate, an alternative to the traditional lithium carbonate form, might be the answer.
According to a March 11th article in phys.org entitled ‘Researchers closer to improving safety, effectiveness of lithium therapy’:
‘The researchers found that oral lithium salicylate produced steady lithium levels up to 48 hours in rats without the toxic spike associated with the rapid absorption of current FDA-approved lithium carbonate. They concluded that lithium salicylate could be more effective than lithium carbonate, yet without accompanying risks of toxicity, a potentially important development in the next generation of lithium therapeutics’.
It certainly sounds promising. You can read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-03-closer-safety-effectiveness-lithium-therapy.html#jCp. Or, you can read the abstract from the research article here: Smith, A. J., S. Kim, J. Tan, K. B. Sneed, P. R. Sanberg, C. V. Borlongan and R. D. Shytle (2014). “Plasma and brain pharmacokinetics of previously unexplored lithium salts.” RSC Advances 2014, 12362. pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2014/ra/c3ra46962j#!divAbstract