Research suggests that anti-inflammatory drugs may offer alternative to anti-depressants

pharmafile | October 18, 2016 | News story | Manufacturing and Production University of Cambridge, anti-cytokine, anti-inflammatory, depression 

Researchers at the University of Cambridge analysed data from 20 clinical trials involving anti-cytokine drugs, which are commonly used to treat a range of autoimmune inflammatory diseases. The purpose of the study was to identify any additional side-effects of the drugs that could be deemed beneficial. Researchers found that the drug had an additional effect of being an anti-depressant.

The research is interesting due to the fact that anti-depressants are not effective with all patients, with around a third of patients not responding to medication. The finding that this particular anti-inflammatory drug could ease symptoms in those suffering from depression then raises the possibility of an alternative for these patients.

Dr Khandaker, the lead researched, commented on the discovery that “The current approach of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ medicine to treat depression is problematic. All currently available antidepressants target a particular type of neurotransmitter, but a third of patients do not respond to these drugs. We are now entering the era of ‘personalised medicine’ where we can tailor treatments to individual patients. This approach is starting to show success in treating cancers, and it’s possible that in future we would use anti-inflammatory drugs in psychiatry for certain patients with depression.”

The links found between inflammation and depression have begun to gain ground with a previous study that found children with high levels of ‘inflammatory markers’ were more prone developing depression and psychosis in adulthood. Anti-cytokine drugs are used to treat people who have autoimmune inflammatory diseases, such as psoriasis or Crohn’s disease. The reduction in the production of the autoimmune response of the body and the alleviated symptoms of depression are then presumed to be closely linked, at least in certain individuals.

The next step for the research is to have specialised clinical trials specifically to test the results of this research. There will still be barriers on the way to this becoming a potential treatment as this form of treatment have potentially serious side effects.

Ben Hargreaves

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