University Researchers Receive Grant to Study Novel Treatment for Major Depression

AHSC Memo

University Researchers Receive Grant from Depressive and Bipolar Disorder Alternative Treatment Foundation

To Study Novel Treatment for Major Depression

Researchers at the University of Arizona have received a $55,000 grant from the Depressive and Bipolar Disorder Alternative Treatment Foundation to study whole body hyperthermia (WBH), a novel intervention that has shown promise in preliminary studies for the treatment of acute treatment of major depression. The study, which will be led by principal investigator Charles L. Raison, MD, Associate Professor in the College of Medicine and Barry and Janet Lang Associate Professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, involves a widespread collaborative effort by researchers from multiple academic units at the University of Arizona and from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

This study builds upon prior data from the research team suggesting that sensory pathways running from the brain to the body may be involved in the development of major depression and may hold promise as new ways of treating the disorder. "What's really remarkable in the work done so far is the evidence that is beginning to accumulate suggesting that it might be possible to treat this hugely costly mental illness by interventions based in the body, not in the brain," according to Dr. Raison. "We also have some evidence to suggest that it might be more possible to predict who will and who will not respond to body-based treatments like hyperthermia than it has been to predict who will and will not benefit from standard antidepressants."

Collaborating researchers on the project include Ole Thienhaus, MD, and Patricia Haynes, PhD, from the Department of Psychiatry in the College of Medicine; Matthias Mehl, PhD, John J.B. Allen, PhD, and Megan Robbins, PhD, from the Department of Psychology in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences; Ashley Randall, PhD, Rebecca Reed, Clemens Janssen and Tommy Begay, PhD, from the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Dean Billheimer, PhD, BIO5 Institute; Christopher Lowry, PhD, from the Department of Integrative Physiology; University of Colorado Boulder, and Kay-u Hanusch, Aeskulap Clinic, Switzerland.

Support for this study has also been provided from the Braun Foundation, which provided the research team with a Heckel HT3000 hyperthermia device for use in their study.

For more information, please contact Dr. Raison at craison@email.arizona.edu.