Could treatment-resistant depression get a boost from psychedelics?
Merck & Co., one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, has entered into a partnership with psychedelic life sciences company Novamind.
Under the agreement, Novamind's subsidiary, Cedar Clinical Research (CCR), will function as a research arm for a new Merck-developed drug targeting treatment-resistant depression.
“We’re proud to partner with Merck and support its innovative neuroscience work to develop a potential new drug for treatment-resistant depression,” said Dr Reid Robison, chief medical officer of Novamind and principal investigator at CCR. “CCR has unique expertise conducting clinical trials and research studies in neuropsychiatry, for a variety of sponsors. This exciting research opportunity with Merck exemplifies a growing pipeline of opportunities for us to provide contract research services to leading drug developers.”
As many as 30 percent of people diagnosed with major depressive disorders become treatment-resistant. Psychedelics, particularly psilocybin mushrooms, have shown promise in bringing relief to patients struggling with treatment-resistant depression.
Merck chose Novamind's Cedar Clinical Research for its history in hosting clinical trials. But it's not clear if the Merck drug contains any psychedelic compounds. Novamind stated that at this stage in the process “there’s not much of anything Novamind can say about the compound or how it works.” Currently labeled as MK-1942, all that's known about the Merck drug is that it may show efficacy in treatment-resistant depression. It will be added to antidepressant therapy for study participants and compared against placebo.
“Under Dr. Robison’s leadership, Cedar Clinical Research has proven itself as a best-in-class research site for emerging mental health therapeutics,” said Yaron Conforti, CEO and Director of Novamind. “We’re excited to work with Merck, a world-class pharmaceutical company, to advance research for innovative mental health treatments.”