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Current Clinical Trial Developments For Mental Health


Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States with around 7,1% (17.3 million) of American adults have experienced at least one depressive episode in their lifetime. Depression is still the leading cause of disability worldwide and around 75% of people living with mental disorders stay untreated. In addition, one out of five MDD patients is living with treatment-resistant depression. 


Therefore, clinical research in the field of mental health is essential in order to make a difference for millions of people struggling with depression, anxiety, or PTSD every day. In the last year, developments in mental health studies have picked up again. Today, we will take a look at the most promising current developments in depression research. 


Breakthrough in Brain research 


In 2018, a team of engineers and physicians at the University of Southern California (USC) and UC San Francisco developed a new decoding technology and discovered how mood variations can be decoded from neural signals in the human brain. This is a groundbreaking discovery as this process has never been demonstrated before. This discovery allows researchers to develop new kinds of therapy to use brain stimulation in order to treat for example anxiety disorders in patients who are currently not responsive to other treatment methods. 


Blood testing to indicate “depression” protein


Antidepressants are the main first-line treatments for moderate to severe depressions, however, only 40% of patients respond to the first antidepressant they are given. Researchers of the McGill University and the Douglas Mental Health University Institute in Montreal, Canada suggest that the protein GPR56 is involved in the development of depression and the effectiveness of antidepressants on patients. Scientists investigated the changes in the activity of genes in the blood of over 400 patients treated with antidepressants. As a result, patients who reacted positively to certain antidepressants had significantly changed levels of GPR56 than people who did not react to the drug. This discovery could potentially lead an easy-to-measure biomarker for response to Antidepressants. 


First FDA approved drug to treat postpartum depression 


Postpartum depression (PPD) can be identified as a major depressive episode that occurs after giving birth with symptoms starting as early as pregnancy. In early 2019, the US FDA announced the approval of Zulresso (brexanolone) which is an injection for intravenous use for the treatment of PPD in women. This is the first drug officially approved by the FDA of that kind. A clinical trial with over 200 women showed the effectiveness of Zulresso after 60 hours (2,5 days) of receiving continuous IV infusion to help with symptoms of PPD. 


FDA grants breakthrough therapy to major depression disorder drug


Last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted breakthrough therapy to AXS-05, a novel, oral, investigational NMDA receptor antagonist, designated for the treatment of major depression disorder (MDD). Besides that, the drug has also been granted fast track designations for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease agitation and treatment-resistant depression


Do you want to be part of medical history? 


Looking at developments and breakthroughs in medical research over the past couple of years shows how essential clinical trials are to drive innovation in medicine. The developments of new treatments and drugs are only possible through thousands of volunteers that want to make a difference for their health community. This is why medical research needs you. Do you want to learn more about clinical trials and how you can sign up? Read more here.

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