AI-powered depression treatment trial seeks volunteers

Volunteers are needed for a clinical trial investigating the use of an AI algorithm to treat depression. Oxford University’s psychiatry department is leading the trial, testing a digital tool named Petrushka. Petrushka analyzes data from over a million individuals to personalize antidepressant recommendations in real-time during consultations. The aim is to recruit approximately 200 participants by summer, with a total of over 500 involved in the trial.

Petrushka considers various factors including age, gender, symptom severity, and side effects to suggest tailored antidepressant treatments. Researchers believe this approach empowers patients and enhances shared decision-making in treatment. Chief investigator Prof Andrea Cipriani emphasized the trial’s departure from conventional prescribing practices, where clinicians often rely on limited options. The goal is to provide individualized, effective treatments efficiently, rather than relying on trial and error.

Interested patients can self-enroll for the trial, followed by a brief screening process. The trial is also conducted in Canada and Brazil. Trial manager Nyla Haque outlined the 24-week duration, with an assessment after eight weeks to evaluate treatment adherence and tolerability. Data on mood, anxiety, quality of life, and side effects will be collected throughout the trial. Funding for the project is provided by the National Institute for Health and Care Research.

Photo credit: Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford