A major drawback of benzodiazepine (BZD) use in humans is that numerous side effects and no scientific evidence are pointing to the efficacy of long term use. 1 This problem can occur when doctors prescribe these medications without using published data to inform their decisions. Some of the issues with benzodiazepine use include addiction, harmful combination with other drugs, and a long list of side effects. These side effects potentially outweigh the primary complaint the patient went to the doctor for. Selank, a new alternative to benzodiazepines, could lower the rates of BZD’s prescribed and deliver the desired results without the complicated issues arising with benzodiazepine use.
Patients seeking relief from several issues can be prescribed benzodiazepines. Those with panic disorder, general anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and insomnia are properly given these medications with data to support their use. All other applications are considered to be off-label and potentially harmful for the individual receiving the medication. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is highly inadvisable due to the overlapping of symptoms. Individuals with depression, neurocognitive disorders, and substance use disorders show higher risks when taking these medications both with and without a prescription. 1
Benzodiazepines have been studied to a much greater extent but have dozens of undesirable side effects and a considerably difficult withdrawal for those that take the medication over long periods. Though no long-term trials have shown the efficacy for benzodiazepine use these medications are given for longer periods than they are supposed to be given for. 1 With this common occurrence people are becoming dependent on their medication with an increased risk for tolerance and withdrawal. Selank is an artificially created regulatory peptide that acts in a way similar to benzodiazepines. Though the exact mechanism has yet to be elucidated, some hypotheses include the peptide’s action on the GABAnergic system. 2,3 Currently, experiments have been completed in rats and are progressing towards human trials.
Benzodiazepines act on a receptor in the brain that is responsible for the inhibition of other signaling molecules. The drug allows for increased brain regulation which leads to some of the side effects encountered when taking these medications such as drowsiness and lowered reaction time. The pathway of Selank appears to be similar to benzodiazepines though the exact mechanism of action for Selank is still unknown. Selank is likely to include a similar action of the upregulation of the GABA receptor system.
Selank has the potential to replace benzodiazepine use in healthcare. If clinical trials in humans prove to be successful this much safer compound would be a benefit to those that suffer from anxiety, restlessness, and other similar disorders. Having a compound that safely regulates the GABA system without a disproportionate amount of side effects would advance the treatment for various anxiety-related dysfunctions people encounter in their lives. As a potentially safer alternative, Selank could prove to benefit a large number of people being prescribed benzodiazepines each year.
- Guina J. Benzodiazepines I : Upping the Care on Downers : The Evidence of Risks , Benefits and Alternatives. 2018. doi:10.3390/jcm7020017
- Volkova A, Shadrina M, Kolomin T, Andreeva L. Selank Administration Affects the Expression of Some Genes Involved in GABAergic Neurotransmission. 2016;7(February). doi:10.3389/fphar.2016.00031
- Czabak-garbacz R, Cygan B. Influence of long-term treatment with tuftsin analogue TP-7 on the anxiety-phobic states and body weight. 2006.