e-Therapeutics plc (AIM: ETX) announces that it has started a randomised double-blind controlled phase IIb trial of ETS6103 in major depressive disorder. The trial is evaluating ETS6103 as a second-line treatment for patients who have not responded adequately to first-line therapy with an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). It is being conducted by a group of primary care centres with a history of involvement in depression studies in the Glasgow area of Scotland.
Under the trial protocol, patients are enrolled prior to first-line treatment so that this can be standardised: every patient will receive the SSRI citalopram. Those with significant depressive symptoms remaining after six weeks on citalopram will enter the randomised phase of the study, which compares two different doses of ETS6103 with amitriptyline, a widely available tricyclic antidepressant. Approximately 160 patients will be randomised.
The principal objective is to test whether the two ETS6103 regimens have antidepressant activity 'non-inferior' to that of amitriptyline. The primary measure of activity is the change in Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) score between randomisation and the end of treatment eight weeks later. Safety and a variety of secondary efficacy variables will also be assessed. e-Therapeutics expects to report the results of the trial in the first half of 2015. If these are positive, the Company intends to seek a licensing deal for the drug.
Stephen Self, Development Director at e-Therapeutics, said: "A clear need exists for better treatments for patients who do not respond well to first-line anti-depressant therapies. We believe that ETS6103 has potential in this population and are working with an experienced group of clinicians to test this proposition in a randomised controlled trial."