The three-year trial will test the effects of the sedative on 200 patients.
The largest clinical trial of ketamine for the ongoing treatment of depression has been launched across Australia and New Zealand this week.
The three-year trial involves seven research institutions, testing 200 patients who have not previously responded to existing depression medication.
For the first time researchers will compare how patients respond to the ongoing treatment of multiple doses of the drug against an active placebo.
What is ketamine and how may it be used to treat depression?
Ketamine is a medication that is often used for sedation and pain relief. It’s known to have temporarily disorienting or dissociative side effects leading to its use as a recreational ‘party’ drug.
To treat depression, ketamine may help regenerate the connections between the brain cells that have been damaged by mental illness, as opposed to regular anti-depressants which work on regulating the brain’s chemicals, such as serotonin.
The trial will be completely randomised with neither the patients nor researchers aware of who will be receiving the placebo or ketamine.
University of New South Wales Professor Colleen Loo, who is based at the Black Dog Institute will be leading the trial and has been part of UNSW’s research into the use of the drug to treat to depression over the past five years.
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The @blackdoginst is undertaking world’s biggest trial of #ketamine to treat #depression http://bit.ly/2b7UBE8
7:52 AM – 16 Aug 2016
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Of course this isn’t the first time a controversial substance has been trialed to treat illness, with both outstanding breakthroughs and devastating outcomes checkering the history of clinical trials.
Anavex 2-73 Trial
Earlier this year, a world first Melbourne drug trial of the drug Anavex gave hope to those suffering with Alzheimer’s disease.
The trial showed an improvement in the cognitive ability of the 32 patients that were involved with one woman regaining the ability to play the piano and another rediscovering her arts skills after being treated with Anavex.
Researchers were cautious with results due to the low number of participants but the first round of the trial delivered substantially stronger results than any other existing treatment for the disease.
Although, stocks for the company did plummet when the 31 week results for the trial produced less promising results than the first round.
As the trials continue, it’s still up in the air as to whether Anavex will be the saviour for a disease that is yet to have any cure.