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Ketamine may help patients with depression - study
The study was conducted by scientists at Janssen Research and Development in New Jersey.

Medication might become available on the NHS

The anaesthetic drug ketamine may help to decrease suicidal feelings and depression, according to new research.

The study published in the American Journal of Psychology tested the effect of ketamine on patients rated at risk and in need of hospitalisation. It found that ketamine administered via a nasal spray, together with anti-depressant treatment, cut suicidal thoughts and depression in around four hours.

Researchers say the nasal spray did not exceed that of a placebo with antidepressent treatment at the end of the four-week trial. However, the effects of the spray were profound and similar to those achieved with intravenous ketamine. The spray is now going through phase three trials before it is approved for marketing.

Whilst the study does not report any misuse of ketamine, its authors warn that further research is required on the probable mistreatment of the drug. In recent years, ketamine has been used recreationally, prompting moves to control the substance under international law.

Dr James Stone from the Royal College of Psychiatrists told BBC News the study confirmed the findings from studies into intravenous ketamine that had been successful.

"The main reason for its significance is because this is being developed by a drug company and it's potentially quite likely that this medication might become available as a treatment available on the NHS for depression,” he said.

Dr Stone added that because the ketamine was being administered as a nasal spray, it was “much easier to administer than intravenous ketamine” and “potentially quicker to give”. 

He said that if the drug was to go on to be prescribed on the NHS, it would be aimed at those with severe depression if other drugs had failed.

The study was conducted by scientists at Janssen Research and Development in New Jersey, a Johnson & Johnson company, and the Yale School of Medicine. 

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Vets save premature penguin chick

News Story 1
 Vets have saved a tiny Humboldt penguin chick after her egg was accidentally broken by her parents. Keepers at ZSL London Zoo were shocked to find the chick, named Rainbow, still alive and rushed her straight to the Zoo’s on-site veterinary clinic.

It was a little way to go until the chick should have hatched, so the process was touch and go. Vets removed bits of shell from around the chick with tweezers until she could be lifted out and placed in a makeshift nest.

Rainbow is now in a custom-built incubation room where she spends her days cuddled up to a toy penguin. Keepers will hand-fed Rainbow for the next 10 weeks until she is healthy enough to move to the penguin nursery.  

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BVA infographic to help shoppers understand farm assurance schemes

An infographic to help members of the public understand farm assurance schemes has been produced by the BVA. The infographic outlines BVA’s priorities for animal welfare and shows whether or not the schemes address these priorities in their standards.

BVA president John Fishwick said: “The infographic is not intended to be a league table but to allow people to understand what aspects of animal health and welfare are addressed by assurance schemes so that they can decide which scheme best aligns with their own individual preferences and priorities."