Seven clinical trials testing the use of potential breakthrough combination therapies to treat debilitating mental illnesses will receive a total of nearly $ 15 million from the Morrison government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).
It is estimated that four million Australians suffer from a mental health disorder each year, and nearly half of all Australians will be affected at some point in their lives. Depression, anxiety and substance use disorders are the most common mental illnesses among Australians. Not all patients get good results with standard treatments, and few new drugs have become available in recent years.
However, there is growing evidence that substances such as psilocybin and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and cannabidiol (CBD) when used in a controlled and sustained environment through psychological / psychiatric care, can help to treat mental disorders. disease that has not responded to other treatments.
The seven projects funded under the Government’s Innovative Therapies for Mental Illness Grant will accelerate global efforts to find new treatments for mental illness by supporting Australia-led research into safety and efficacy of these drugs compared to standard therapies when used under controlled and accompanied conditions. by psychotherapy.
The trials have the potential to provide a breakthrough treatment for people with persistent mental illnesses, including major depression associated with alcohol use, anorexia nervosa, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety disorders. .
The largest of the grants, more than $ 3.8 million, will go to a research team at the University of Melbourne for a trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treatment-resistant social anxiety in young adults with the disorders. of the autism spectrum. Social anxiety is common among young adults with autism and adds to their disability and distress. Current treatments are often ineffective.
Other trials will use psilocybin for anorexia nervosa, depression, and alcohol use; MDMA for alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder; CBD for anxiety disorders in young people; and DMT for major depression and alcohol consumption.
All trials are subject to regulatory approvals, including additional state and territory approval requirements for the use of these drugs.
Health and Elderly Care Minister Greg Hunt said the government’s MRFF is helping to ensure Australia’s medical research sector remains at the forefront of global innovation.
“It is vital that we continue to support research into new and better treatments for mental illness. This funding will stimulate local research into potentially life-saving therapies and provide hope for all those living with mental illness, ”said Minister Hunt.
Deputy Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention David Coleman has said mental health and suicide prevention is one of the government’s top priorities.
“The prevalence and impact of mental illness is devastating for individuals, families and communities. This research aims to ensure that we explore all potential treatment avenues for Australians diagnosed with mental illness, ”said Deputy Minister Coleman.
The government’s Medical Research Future Fund is a $ 20 billion endowment fund, which provides lasting support to Australia’s best and brightest researchers. More information on the Medical Research Future Fund is available at www.health.gov.au/mrff