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Selank is a small protein produced in Russia to treat anxiety and improve learning. No side effects have been observed. Keep reading to learn more about the possible benefits of Selank.
Note: By writing this post, we are not recommending this drug. Some of our readers who were already taking the drug requested that we commission a post on it and we are simply providing information that is available in the scientific literature. Please discuss your medications with your doctor.
What is Selank (TP-7)?
The recent boom in biotechnology has opened the door for studying new biologically active compounds, including nootropics. One of these is Selank (previously known as TP-7), which belongs to a class of molecules called synthetic peptides, or small artificially-made proteins [R].
It is an anti-anxiety compound that improves learning and increases energy without side effects or the risk of addiction.
Selank is small and only a fraction of the size of most naturally occurring proteins. It was derived by combining the sequence of a peptide called tuftsin with another sequence that improves its stability. Tuftsin is naturally occurring and makes up one part of IgG (an antibody) [R].
How Selank Works
However, some mice did not demonstrate the enkephalin stabilization following dosing with Selank and did not benefit from its anti-anxiety effect [R].
In cells, Selank binds to GABA receptors. Most compounds that bind to GABA receptors cause a sedative effect. In mice treated with Selank, researchers discovered more activity in inhibitory neurons, which rely on GABA. This resulted in less brain activity [R, R, R].
In some mice, Selank increased norepinephrine, but decreased dopamine and serotonin. In other mice, Selank increased norepinephrine and dopamine and did not change serotonin [R]. Therefore, its exact effect is not clear.
Possible Uses and Effects of Selank
1) Selank Treats Anxiety
In a study (RCT) of 62 patients, those treated with Selank had fewer anxiety symptoms, with a greater decrease in those suffering from anxiety disorders [R].
In another study (RCT), similar benefits were observed in 60 patients suffering from anxiety and phobias up to a week after the final dose [R].
Additionally, in 70 anxiety patients, Selank increased phenazepam’s effects (an anti-anxiety drug banned in some U.S. states for its recreational use) while reducing its side effects (drowsiness and memory loss) [R, R].
Additionally, Selank showed anti-anxiety effects on rats over 4 weeks of daily treatment [R].
2) Selank May Assist with Learning
In rats, within three days, Selank supplementation improved their learning ability [R].
4) Selank May Help Recover from Brain Damage
In one study, researchers gave Selank supplements to rats with toxin-induced brain damage. Selank restored their brain activity to normal levels [R].
5) Selank May Enhance Memory
Selank stabilized memory traces (storage) in rats during a 30-day trial. However, it is unclear how these measurements were performed, as memory traces are not detectable as discrete locations in the brain [R, R].
Selank may also preserve memories in monkeys [R].
6) Selank May Strengthen Immune Function
In cell-based studies, Selank released interferons, which are anti-viral molecules [R].
Selank protects cells from some viral infections. However, mice infected with a virus did not benefit from Selank [R].
7) Selank May Increase Antioxidant Activity in the Liver
Injection of Selank increased the levels of antioxidants in the liver of stressed mice [R].
8) Selank May Treat Symptoms of Depression
Low doses of Selank were more effective at decreasing depression symptoms than high doses [R].
9) Selank May Decrease Blood Pressure and Increase Blood Flow to the Brain
In sedated cats, Selank decreased blood pressure by about 30% for 3 minutes [R].
It also increased blood flow to the cats’ brain by about 24% for up to 10 minutes. Sedation can affect blood pressure and cranial blood flow [R].
10) Selank May Reduce The Severity Of Alcohol Withdrawal
To mimic high alcohol intake, rats were given a 10% ethanol (alcohol) solution as their sole drinking source for 24 weeks. Selank decreased the anxiety of rats following 48-hour alcohol withdrawal [R].
11) Selank May Help Prevent Weight Gain and Reduce Cholesterol
In one study, rats on a high-fat diet had 35% less weight gain when treated with Selank. Additionally, total cholesterol for these rats was reduced by over 58% and blood glucose level was reduced by 23.5% [R].
12) Selank May Treat Cancer
13) Selank May Reduce Inflammation in the Spleen
After treatment with Selank, mice spleen had increased levels of several inflammatory response genes, which may protect from the harmful effects of inflammation [R].
14) Selank May Treat Ulcers
Selank, NA-Selank, and NA-Selank Amidate
Selank is sold in three forms. The commonly researched form is Selank. NA-Selank (also called N-Acetyl Selank) is the same as Selank but with an “acetyl” group attached to one end.
Acetyl groups may assist in penetration into the brain [R].
No human studies have been performed on NA-Selank.
Amidate (also known as Etomidate) is a sedative used for general anesthesia [R].
There are no available studies that combine Selank with Amidate.
Selank vs. Semax
Much like Selank, Semax is also a synthetic peptide.
Semax comes from a different protein (a brain hormone) and also has different purposes, such as improving circulation and preventing liver damage.
Limitations and Caveats
In sum, the above data seems encouraging, but there is room for skepticism about the future of Selank.
This puts into doubt whether it can really have the week-long effects as reported in the clinical trials.
There is limited information about Selank’s activity in patients because there are only 3 clinical studies listed in PubMed [R].
Another concern is the lack of reported side effects. Many of the studies conducted were very short-term (within 24 hours). More rigorous and longer testing must be performed to measure side effects.
One final concern is that Selank cannot be taken orally because the stomach will digest it. Thus, you must either inject Selank under the skin or inhale it through the nose, with inhaling being more effective in delivery to the brain [R].
This dosing requirement may be off-putting to some considering trying Selank.
While Selank is purchasable in Russia, it still has a long road ahead before it becomes readily available in the US. Synthetic peptides require FDA approval in the US.
The Russian Academy of Sciences reported all findings described above. As the Russian Academy of Sciences is the sole developer of Selank, there is a conflict of interest in these studies.
Selank products are normally available as a 0.15% spray, with 75 μg of Selank per spray. The recommended dosage is 2 or 3 sprays per dose with 3 doses per day (a max total of 675 μg per day) [R].
For an adult weighing 67.5 kg (about 149 lbs.), this translates to about 0.01 mg Selank/kg body weight. Rat studies normally used 0.3 mg Selank/kg body weight.
Users reported that Selank has anti-anxiety effects at higher doses. However, they did not experience any nootropic (brain- or memory-enhancing) effects.
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