USF researchers “reinvent” lithium therapeutics to improve safety and efficacy

A multi-disciplinary team of researchers at the University of South Florida are improving the safety and efficacy of one of the oldest psychiatric drugs in existence. Lithium therapy is still in use today for the treatment of bipolar disorder and other off label uses. Although it is a highly effective medication that is unmatched by any alternatives, patient compliance and adverse events remain problematic.

A team of USF researchers led by Dr. Doug Shytle of USF Neurosurgery & Brain Repair and Dr. Mike Zaworotko of USF Chemistry have applied crystal engineering techniques to create novel ionic cocrystals of lithium. One of these cocrystals was subjected to a battery of efficacy and pharmacokinetic experiments compared to conventional lithium therapeutics.

Ionic cocrystal, LISPRO

Ionic cocrystal, LISPRO

“Our ionic cocrystal, LISPRO, did not change the activities that make lithium therapy so effective but produced steady lithium blood and brain levels out to 48 hours. We are hopeful that this will significantly reduce the incidence of adverse events often associated with lithium therapy and allow for less frequent dosing,” said lead author Dr. Adam Smith of the Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair.

Their study was published in Molecular Pharmaceutics and the full text is freely available here.