For the study, Manji said, "we started with 20 milligrams [of tamoxifen] a day. It was increased each day, usually up to 100 milligrams a day. "Literally at day five we saw this significant anti-mania effect," he said, adding that with standard medications it would have taken three weeks to see results.
"If we had something that would nip mania in the bud, it might save people from being hospitalized and getting sedating agents," Manji said.
A new bipolar drug would not be tamoxifen itself, he said, but rather another medicine that mimics what tamoxifen does in the brain. The development of such a drug would probably take at least five years before it could be approved for marketing, he said.
Dr. Gary S. Sachs, director of the bipolar clinic and research program at Massachusetts General Hospital and associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, called the results "encouraging."
Sachs said he was aware of other research with similar findings. "I wouldn't say this study proves that tamoxifen works faster than standard [treatment,]" he said, since a head-to-head comparison was not done. But, while not definitive, "the study has important findings," he said.
To learn more about bipolar disorder, visit the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.
SOURCES: Husseini K. Manji, M.D., director, mood and anxiety disorders program, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Md.; Gary Sachs, M.D., director, bipolar clinic and research program, Massachusetts General Hospital, and
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