Science researchers at Emory University recently conducted a study that suggests a drug used to treat autoimmune disorders and rheumatoid arthritis may be used to help treat people with depression who haven’t had success with traditional depression medications. The study was published on September 3rd in Archives of General Psychiatry. According to researchers, inflammation is normally associated with the way the body responds to tissue damage, but persistent inflammation can affect many parts of the body, including the brain.
Emory University reported that previous studies have suggested that people with depression and signs of severe inflammation are less likely to respond to popular, traditional treatments for this disorder, such as anti-depressant medications and psychotherapy. The Emory University study intended to discover whether blocking inflammation would help the majority of people with difficult-to-treat depression or only those with severe inflammation.
Emory University Hospital
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
The Emory University science researchers investigated the use of infliximab, a new drug primarily used to treat autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Each participant received either the infliximab or a placebo. According to Psych Central, all the participants had major forms of depression and were unsuccessful in being treated by antidepressants. When researchers examined the results for the group of participants, no noteworthy differences were found in the alleviation of depression symptoms between those who received the drug and the placebo. When the group of participants with severe inflammation was looked at on its own, however, the infliximab produced a much better response than the placebo.
An article on Yahoo reports that infliximab is the first biologic drug to be successful in treating depression. The Emory University trial also suggests that a blood test could show the level of inflammation a patient is experiencing and determine how likely infliximab is to work in treating the symptoms of depression.
"The prediction of an antidepressant response using a simple blood test is one of the holy grails in psychiatry," says Andrew H. Miller, senior author for the study and professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine. "This is especially important because the blood test not only measured what we think is at the root cause of depression in these patients, but also is the target of the drug."
Andrew H. Miller
Image courtesy of Emory University
Science researchers at Emory University have contributed a remarkable new understanding in depression research. The results of the study will surely help a great number of people whose depression has, up until now, been mysteriously difficult to treat. It’s important, however, for patients considering using this medication to undergo a thorough evaluation and learn about the risks of using infliximab for depression.
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