Monash University-Led Team Receives Funding for Psychedelic Psychotherapy in Treatment-Resistant Depression

The Medical Research Future Fund Clinical Trials Activity Initiative has awarded $2.7M for Innovative Therapies for Mental Illness to a Monash University-led team, to evaluate the efficacy of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy in treatment-resistant depression.

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is, sadly, common, and results in the greatest global burden of disease. Although there are established treatments for depression, people frequently do not respond to these treatments. At least one-third of patients with depression have an inadequate response to medication, many of whom remain persistently unwell.

Patients with depression often require a psychotherapeutic approach to treatment but struggle to successfully engage in therapy due to impairments of concentration, mood and motivation. Psilocybin,  a naturally derived psychedelic, has the potential to immediately boost mood-enhancing engagement in therapy in addition to any direct physiological effects produced by the substance.

Psilocybin is converted in the body to psilocin which is the psychoactive agent. The form and dose of drug and psychotherapeutic approach are all important considerations that will be refined through the trial.

Photo: Hassan Vakil

The team writes about the project, “Psychedelic assisted psychotherapy using psilocybin, has been investigated in several small studies for its capacity to aid in the recovery of patients with depression.

This form of treatment appears to have antidepressant benefits but there are considerable limitations with the studies that have been conducted to date. We aim to conduct a substantive study evaluating the use of this treatment in patients with depression who have failed to respond to other antidepressant medications.

The team is led by Professor Paul Fitzgerald, Director of the Epworth Centre for Innovation in Mental Health (ECIMH) and Professor of Psychiatry at the Epworth Clinic / Epworth Health Care. The team includes Professor Kate HoyProfessor Jayashri KulkarniProfessor Michael Berk (Deakin University), Dr Neil BaileyProfessor Stephane HeritierDr Jeggan Tiego, and Professor Nicholas Glozier (University of Sydney).

Read the original release here.

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