Updates on our KITE-Dep Study on the use of ketamine to treat depression

Here, our Research Department provides updates on the ongoing KITE-Dep (Ketamine Interleaved with Electroconvulsive Therapy for Depression) Study.

Depressive episodes secondary to Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Affective Disorder cause significant disability and impact on quality of life. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that, by 2030, depression will be the leading cause of disability around the world. About 30% of patients do not respond to antidepressants even after multiple trials of medication with/without psychotherapies; such patients fall under the category of Treatment-Resistant Depression (TRD). Finding an effective treatment for these patients remains a significant challenge.

Ketamine is an anaesthetic agent often used in paediatric surgery and for treatment of chronic pain. It has been shown to produce rapid, though short-lived, antidepressant effects. Esketamine, a compound related to ketamine, has been approved for use in Treatment Resistant Depression by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is a safe and effective treatment for treatment resistant depression, treatment resistant mania and also catatonia. ECT involves the application of an electrical current to the brain to induce a seizure under general anaesthesia.

The KITE-Dep (Ketamine Interleaved with Electroconvulsive therapy for Depression) Study, a double-blind randomised control trial, aims to determine whether ketamine as an adjunctive therapy, alongside ECT and routine care, will help accelerate recovery in patients with severe depression admitted to hospital. This trial began recruiting in January 2020 and is ongoing at present. Eligible participants include those with depressive episodes secondary to Major Depressive Disorder or Bipolar Affective Disorder who are referred for ECT in St Patrick’s Mental Health Services (SPMHS). Participants are randomised to receive twice weekly, 40-minute infusions of Ketamine or a comparator drug (Midazolam), on days separate to treatment with ECT. Infusions continue for the duration of treatment with ECT. Participants continue routine care with their multidisciplinary team.

For more information on this study, please feel free to contact the research team at SPMHS.

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