April 27, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A team of researchers have joined together to improve the quality of life for more than 121 million people suffering from major depressive disorder, one of the leading causes of disability world-wide. In the largest study ever to evaluate characteristics and treatments of depression, physicians and scientists in 20 countries on five different continents hope to discover markers that will provide an objective way to predict response to a particular anti-depressant treatment for an individual with depression.
For the International Study to Predict Optimized Treatment of Depression (i-SPOT-d), study volunteers undergo a psychiatric evaluation, cognitive and genetic testing, and an assessment of electrical brain activity, to better determine factors associated with their depression that can predict specific response to three most commonly used anti-depressants. After these assessments, participants are randomized to receive one of three U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved anti-depressants.
A team of psychiatrists, residents, nurses and researchers in The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry are collaborating to enhance the diagnosis, classification and treatment of depression by identifying valid predictors of effective treatment response for depression.
“Part of i-SPOT-d is to look at genetic and cognitive markers and markers for brain function and structure. The study will look at objective evidence that will help us determine which patient is going to respond to which treatment so we can then individualize and optimize their treatment, ” says Dr. Subhdeep Virk, a psychiatrist and principal investigator of the study at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center.
According to Virk, one critical challenge to treating a patient with depression is the inability to predict who is going to respond to which medication. The duration of a majority of trials evaluating the effectiveness of a treatment lasts only six to eight weeks. The i-SPOT-d study involves following patients for a longer period of time to better assess the effectiveness and potential side effects of various anti-depressants. Virk hopes this research method will improve treatment safety and effectiveness, as well as patient compliance and communication with their health care providers.
“We are hoping to find safer treatment options that will also give us a more expeditious response for those suffering from depression and to cease using a ‘trial and error’ approach to assess response, which can take up to six weeks. This ground-breaking study has the potential to change the way in which personalized medicine is implemented in treatment of depression,” Virk adds.
Depression is a common, often chronic mental illness which causes feelings of sadness, guilt and low self-worth; loss of interest and pleasure; disturbed sleep and appetite; low energy and poor concentration; physical pain and thoughts of suicide, which claims more than 850,000 lives per year. According to a recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anti-depressant use in the U.S. alone has increased by 400 percent over the last 25 years. Researchers predict that by 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability world-wide.
To be eligible for the i-SPOT-d, participants must be 18 to 65 years old, currently depressed and willing to take one of three FDA-approved antidepressants. Participation involves two clinic visits and eight follow-up web-based questionnaires spanning12 months.