Artificial intelligence predicts the success of antidepressants within a week

Artificial intelligence predicts the success of antidepressants within a week

summary: Researchers have developed an artificial intelligence algorithm that, by analyzing brain scans and clinical information, can predict within a week whether an antidepressant will work for patients with major depressive disorder. This method potentially avoids unnecessary prescriptions for sertraline, a commonly used antidepressant, by identifying non-responders early, thus providing better patient care and reducing side effects.

The algorithm focuses on blood flow in the anterior cingulate cortex and symptom severity, representing an important step toward personalized medicine. This approach not only improves treatment outcomes but also reduces societal costs associated with long-term depressive episodes.

Key facts:

  1. The AI ​​algorithm can predict the effectiveness of antidepressants up to 8 weeks faster than current methods.
  2. It correctly identifies one-third of patients as sertraline responders, significantly reducing incorrect prescriptions.
  3. The study highlights the importance of tailoring depression treatment to individual patients, which could revolutionize the standard care process.

source: University of Amsterdam

For patients with major depressive disorder, it is now possible, thanks to the use of artificial intelligence, to predict within a week whether an antidepressant will work or not.

With the help of an artificial intelligence algorithm, brain scans and an individual’s clinical information, researchers from the University of Amsterdam UMC and Radpodomc were able to find out whether the drug would work or not up to 8 weeks faster.

The results of this study are published today in American Journal of Psychiatry.

“This is important news for patients. Usually, it takes 6 to 8 weeks before we know whether an antidepressant will work or not,” says Professor of Neuroradiology at the Medical University of Amsterdam, Lisbeth Renneman.

The research team analyzed whether they could predict the effect of the antidepressant sertraline, one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States and Europe.

In a previous study conducted in the United States, MRI scans and clinical data were performed on 229 patients with major depression before and after a week of treatment with sertraline or placebo.

The researchers in Amsterdam then developed and applied an algorithm to this data to see if they could predict treatment response to sertraline.

This analysis showed that one-third of patients respond to the drug and two-thirds do not. “In this way, we can actually prevent two-thirds of the number of ‘wrong’ prescriptions for sertraline and thus provide better care for the patient. Because the drug also has side effects,” says Reneman.

The right medication, much faster

“The algorithm suggested that blood flow in the anterior cingulate cortex, an area of ​​the brain involved in regulating emotions, would be predictive of the effectiveness of the drug. In the second measurement, a week after onset, it was found that symptom severity was additionally predictive.”

In the future, this new method may help better tailor sertraline treatment to each individual patient. Currently, there is no accurate prediction tool.

The patient is given the medication and after 6 to 8 weeks – in practice often up to several months – the effectiveness of the medication is verified. If the symptoms do not subside, the patient is given another antidepressant, and this process may be repeated several times.

This standard method often takes weeks, if not months. It also saves society costs, because as long as the patient continues to suffer from serious depressive symptoms, he will not be able to fully participate in society.

Follow-up examination

In one out of every three depressed patients, there is still no improvement in symptoms after several treatment steps. Therefore, there is an urgent need to find a solution that allows faster determination of the effectiveness of antidepressants in cases of major depression. In the coming period, researchers will improve the algorithm by adding additional information.

About AI research news and psychopharmacology

author: Jack Cairns
source: University of Amsterdam
communication: Jack Kearns – University of Amsterdam
picture: Image credited to Neuroscience News

Original search: The results will appear in American Journal of Psychiatry

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