International Biomarker-Depression study: iSPOT-D

International Biomarker-Depression study: iSPOT-D

Nijmegen, 26 March 2009 – Research shows that antidepressants only affect 40-60% of patients, while painkillers work for almost everyone. How is this possible? And above all, how can this be improved? To answer these questions, Brainclinics Diagnostics has started an international partnership with the largest Biomarker study in Depression ever conducted. In total, almost 3000 people will be examined for genetic material, brain activity and psychological variables. In the Netherlands this investigation will officially start on 1 April. The aim of this research is to arrive at biomarkers – indicators that can be used to estimate whether or not someone will benefit from a certain antidepressant.

Around 850,000 people in the Netherlands currently suffer from depression (RIVM). The prognosis is that this number will increase sharply in the coming period. The World Health Organization predicts that depression will be the number two public illness in 2020. In most cases, antidepressant medication is prescribed. Currently there are almost 1 million people in the Netherlands who use antidepressants. Research shows that a limited proportion of patients have an adequate effect of antidepressant medication, only 40-60%. What is the reason for that?

Previous research shows that there are different neurophysiological sub-types of depression within the group of patients. This is probably the explanation that one patient does and another does not respond well to antidepressants. These subtypes can be distinguished by biomarkers including EEG, genetic material and neuropsychological tests. To further investigate this, the Brain Resource Company started the iSPOT-D study (international Study to Predict Optimized Treatment response in Depression). In this study, almost 3000 people will be investigated worldwide in which brain activity (QEEG and fMRI), genetic material (DNA) and (neuro) psychological measurements are mapped out, before and during the use of antidepressant medication. This research is also part of a new development in psychiatry: Personalized Medicine.

The iSPOT-D study will provide more insight into the clinical picture of depression. Above all, the aim of this research is to identify biomarkers that can predict which medication can best be prescribed for which patient before starting treatment. This would mean a huge improvement in the treatment of depression.

In the Netherlands, this investigation will formally start on 1 April. This research is conducted by Brainclinics Diagnostics B.V. in Nijmegen. The research has now been opened for depression patients who will be treated with antidepressants, but who have not yet started to do so.


Arns, M. (2008) Personalized Medicine: Nieuwe ontwikkelingen in de diagnostiek en behandeling van Depressie en ADHD. De Psycholoog, September 2008.
Gordon, E. (2007) Integrating genomics and neuromarkers for the era of Brain-related Personalized medicine. Personalized Medicine, 4:201-215.

Also see
the Personalized Medicine section for background information.