Research uses AI to identify effectiveness of antidepressants

Market Expertz   |     September 26, 2019


Two studies undertaken by researchers from UT Southwestern have demonstrated the impact of biology by employing artificial intelligence (AI) to trace patterns in brain activity that decreases the responsiveness to certain antidepressants in people. The research includes the latest findings from a large-scale national trial (EMBARC) that established biology-based, objective strategies for treating mood disorders and minimizing the margin of error involved in prescribing treatments. The team was able to show that a patient’s brain can be used to decide the effectiveness of a medicine.

The studies examined more than 300 participants by using imaging to trace brain activity in the resting state as well as during the processing of emotions. The participants were segregated into two groups, one was a healthy control group, and another consisted of people with depression who received either antidepressants or placebo. In the participants who were given medication, the researchers observed correlations between how the brain is wired and if the participant was likely to improve in two months after taking an antidepressant. Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, Founding Director, Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care, UT Southwestern, explains that imaging the brain’s activity in various states was crucial to gain a more accurate picture of the way depression manifests in a patient. For some, relevant data comes from their brain in a resting state, whereas in others, the emotional processing will be a vital factor and a better predictor for whether an antidepressant will be effective, adds Dr. Trivedi, who oversees EMBARC.

Information from both studies derives from the 16-week-long trial by EMBARC, which was initiated by Dr. Trivedi at four locations in the US back in 2012. The project examined patients with major depressive disorder by using brain imaging and blood, DNA, and other tests. If successful, the researchers wish to use a battery of tests like brain imaging and blood analyses to increase the chances of finding the right treatment.