Sunday, September 16, 2012

New Drug may help depression


Anti-Inflammatory Drug May Help Severe Depression

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About.com Guide September 7, 2012 All rights reserved
A new study suggests that anti-inflammatory drugs may be helpful in treating depression.
According to study author Andrew H. Miller, MD, a professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School Medicine, this may be because long-term inflammation can damage the brain. And, anti-inflammatory drugs could limit this process.
For the clinical trial, a biological drug called infliximab was used. Biological drugs mimic substances made naturally by the body. This particular drug is intended to treat inflammatory diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis by blocking tumor necrosis factor (TNF). In addition to being involved in inflammation, TNF has also been found to be higher in certain depressed patients.
The study participants all suffered from severe depression and had not benefited from other treatments. They were given either a inactive placebo or infliximab. At first the researchers did not find a difference between the two groups, but then they examined data from just the patients who had high levels of inflammation. They found that these patients did experience improvement compared to the placebo group.
These results are important, according to Miller, because "prediction of an antidepressant response using a simple blood test is one of the holy grails in psychiatry." A blood test for markers of inflammation could not only identify which patients could benefit from this drug, it could also measure the patient's response to the treatment.
The study was published online on September 3, 2012 in Archives of General Psychiatry.