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Moving Moods: Can Human Microbiome Transfer Therapy be used as an effective treatment for Depression in adults?

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Exciting new research convincingly demonstrates a link between the human gut bacteria (the “microbiome”) and mental health. We also know that a very effective way of changing the human microbiome is through a Microbiome Transfer Treatment. This involves extracting the bacteria from the human gut, and transferring it to another person. This is a commonly used treatment for the gut infection Clostridium difficile, but has never yet been trialled for depression.  In recent years, there has been an explosion of research into Human Microbiota Transplant Therapy for a wide range of health conditions from Ulcerative Colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome to Autism Spectrum Disorder with promising results.

The Moving Moods study will trial this exciting new therapy in Major Depressive Disorder in adults. We will identify adults with moderate to severe Major Depressive Disorder, who will be randomised to receive either a Microbiome Transfer Treatment (in the form of an enema), or a placebo. We will then observe whether these individuals experience any improvement in their mental health or general health, such as heart health, weight, and sleep. We will also look at whether participants experience major changes in their gut microbiome following the treatment.

This project is being led by Psychiatrist and PhD Candidate at Deakin University’s Food & Mood Centre, Dr Jessica Green.

In July 2021 we will recruit a small cohort for a pilot study to ensure that our study strategy is feasible.  Next year (2022), we hope to recruit approximately 160 more participants to learn whether Human Microbiota Transplant Treatment can be used to effectively treat depression.

The study will be run out of University Hospital, Geelong. However participants residing in any area of Victoria are eligible.

Now Seeking participants!
We are looking for people who are currently experiencing an episode of depression. We are trailing a new treatment called Human Microbiota Transfer Therapy (HMTT), which will be added to your existing treatment.

This project will involve taking bacteria from the gut of a healthy donor and then transferring the bacteria into a person with depression. HMTT is not yet approved to treat depression. We would like to study the use of HMTT in people with depression to see if it is an acceptable and tolerable treatment. This will be done via four micro-enemas. A micro-enema involves inserting the HMTT directly into your rectum, which is the lower part of your gut. As part of this research project, you will receive either HMTT micro-enemas or placebo micro-enemas.

As part of this research, you will be asked to:

  • Attend 10 study appointments based in Geelong. Some of these will be available online.
  • Receive four enemas of either the HMTT or a placebo product over four consecutive days
  • Receive a medical and mental health assessment
  • Provide blood samples and stool samples
  • Complete a series of questionnaires

If you meet the following criteria, you may be eligible to participate:

  • Adult aged 18-65 years
  • Diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder
  • Currently experiencing a depressive episode
  • Are not pregnant or considering becoming pregnant; not currently breastfeeding
  • Have not been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a psychotic illness, obsessive compulsive disorder, anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa
  • Do not have an anaphylactic food allergy

If you would like to receive more information about the study or enquire about participating, please contact us on 03 5227 2290 or submit your details using this form: