Professor Paul Fitzgerald is leading research into new treatment options for depression.

“Depression is still a major problem. We have established treatments that work on two-thirds of people, and with 15 per cent of the population having depression in their lifespan, that leaves a lot of people remaining unwell,” Prof Fitzgerald said.

New hope for depression treatments comes in the form of a collaboration with a small biotech company in Boston, US.

“We’re trialling a new antidepressant drug, called PRAX-114, and giving it to patients for the first time ever. It has been tested in healthy controls but never on patients. This study could have been taken anywhere in the world and they came here. We have the research capacity and the proper medical facilities,” Prof Fitzgerald explained.

This Phase 2 clinical trial is testing the efficacy of the drug with patients who have major depressive disorder. The first 12 patients are spending a week as inpatients and then being treated at home.

“We are hoping it will be a rapidly acting antidepressant,” he said.

ECIMH is also tackling common debilitating illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia and obsessive compulsive disorders to seek more effective treatments.