Australia

Researchers developing nutrient super pill to combat depression

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Researchers developing nutrient super pill to combat depression
Scientists taking part in a joint study by two Australian universities say they hope their research will help people suffering from clinical depression by offering them new combination of nutrient-based medications to enhance mood.

The project, involving researchers from Melbourne and Queensland, believe that biologically active nutrients in combination with existing antidepressant medication can assist some patients.

Current treatment for clinical depression is lacking, with about two-thirds of people treated with first-line antidepressants having an inadequate response. An emerging approach to treat depression is via the ‘add-on’ use of specific nutrients​,” said lead researcher Dr Jerome Sarris of the University of Melbourne.

First tests on targeted nutrients

Depression is a disabling mental disorder and can affect up to one in seven Australians during the course of their lives. The biological cause behind depression is known to involve several factors, and specific nutrients with antidepressant properties can target these particular brain chemical pathways.

While clinical evidence supports the use of several nutrients as antidepressant agents, studies to date have usually only assessed isolated nutrients.

This eight-week study will test a combination of nutrients with individual evidence as mood-elevators, including S-adenosylmethionine—commonly known as Sammy—as well as 5-hydroxytryptophan, an active form of oxitriptan, which itself is a precursor to serotonin, one of the mood-maintaining chemicals in the brain. 

The researchers are also using folinic acid, an activated form of folic acid, zinc and some nutrient co-factors that are important for the metabolisation of some of the nutraceuticals being tested. 

These nutraceuticals are not currently used in anti-depressant drugs, though some are available as standalone products available over the counter, though they have not previously been studied or formulated in this way.

‘Significant impact on clinical practice’

The study is recruiting adults in Victoria and South Eastern Queensland with current depression who are non-responsive to ongoing antidepressant treatment.

If a positive outcome is achieved, this will have a significant impact on clinical practice, providing the public with an evidence-based approach to enhancing the response of antidepressants, and improving depression treatment​,“ Dr Sarris said.

This will have a significant effect on the way depression is treated and have a beneficial effect for sufferers of clinical depression​.

This combination nutrient formulation offers a viable alternative as an affordable, safe, and effective treatment option​.”

The clinical study is being conducted at the Melbourne Clinic in Melbourne and The Royal Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Herston, Brisbane.

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