Treating Treatment Resistant Depression



  • Phase 2 Proof-of-Concept study in TRD patients resistant to standard antidepressants suggests positive trend in efficacy.
  • Potential first-in-class oral prolonged-release formulation of ketamine, KET01, suggests larger improvement in Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) scores at 15 days compared to placebo.
  • Improvement in MADRS scores shown at 7 days suggestive of rapid onset of efficacy.
  • Safety: no treatment-related serious adverse events with only placebo-level dissociative side-effects reported.

Munich, March 31, 2022 – Ketabon GmbH (“Ketabon” or the “company”), together with HMNC Brain Health and Develco Pharma, today announced promising top-line results from the Phase 2 Proof-of-Concept investigator-initiated trial of its oral prolonged-release formulation of ketamine (KET01) in Treatment-Resistant Depression (TRD).

The trial suggests a positive trend in efficacy, based on the primary endpoint clinical data: After 15 days, the highest dose of 240 mg/day KET01 was associated with a larger improvement on the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) compared with placebo (Δ=-4.99, p=0.1499). In addition, KET01 appears to be a safe and well-tolerated antidepressant, with substantially limited dissociative side effects, and scores on the Clinician-Administered Dissociative States Scale (CADSS) similar to those for placebo.

The Phase 2 trial evaluated whether KET01 administered in doses of 240 mg/day and 160 mg/day for 15 days to patients with TRD as an adjunct treatment to standard antidepressants can improve depressive symptoms compared to placebo. Recruitment stopped early after inclusion of 27 patients with TRD instead of 99, due to the effects of COVID-19 together with very stringent criteria for definition of treatment resistant depression on recruitment.

The primary endpoint, change in MADRS from baseline to day 15, showed a mean advantage of -4.99 units compared with placebo (95% confidence interval (CI): -11.81, 1.83, p=0.1499) suggesting a positive trend in efficacy for the highest tested dose (240 mg/day) on the established MADRS rating scale for depressive severity.

Additionally, the data suggest KET01 has a rapid onset of action, with a clinically meaningful improvement of -5.67 units (95%CI: -12.57, 1.23, p=0.1062) already after 7 days compared with placebo.

Importantly, safety results from the trial demonstrated that KET01 was well tolerated, with no treatment-related serious adverse events reported. The scores on the Clinician-Administered Dissociative States Scale (CADSS) were similar to those for placebo.

Dr. Hans Eriksson, Chief Clinical Development Officer at Ketabon and HMNC Brain Health, said, “The encouraging preliminary results we have seen demonstrate the safety of KET01, showing the potential for development of a first-in-class, oral prolonged-release formulation of ketamine treatment for patients suffering from Treatment-Resistant Depression. In addition, our data suggest that KET01 is rapidly acting with a clinically meaningful improvement compared with placebo already after 7 days, which stands in sharp contrast to standard antidepressants which have a delayed onset of action of up to several weeks.”

The study was funded by Ketabon, a joint venture between HMNC Brain Health and Develco Pharma, sponsored by University of Zürich, and conducted under the central leadership of Professor Erich Seifritz, Director of the Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich. Dr. Michael Colla coordinated the medical implementation as head of the clinical trial at the University of Zurich, as successor of Prof. Annette Brühl, after she moved to the University of Basel. The statistical evaluation of the study was carried out by SCOPE, a globally renowned CRO.

Professor Seifritz commented, “We are pleased with the top-level results from this Phase 2 study on Treatment-Resistant Depression with KET01, as they hold significant positive implications for the clinical development of oral prolonged-release ketamine to help those afflicted, making up as many as 30 percent of depression patients. Not only does the data suggest this to be a potentially safer treatment for people suffering from Major Depressive Disorder who have not found currently available antidepressants effective, but it could potentially be expanded to include additional mental-health indications in the future. Ketabon and the University of Zurich will continue to work together in the development of KET01, with future studies being planned."

Ketabon, in partnership with HMNC Brain Health and Develco Pharma, is about to start a multinational, larger CRO-led Phase 2 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in patients with TRD in the second quarter of 2022. First results are expected for mid-2023.

“We are highly encouraged by the findings in this study, showing a clinically meaningful improvement and excellent tolerability in patients treated with 240 mg/day KET01. We will bring our experiences from this study to further trials with KET01 and are looking forward to the next steps in the development of this promising medication”, said Develco Pharma CEO Dr. Martin Renner.

Dr. Eriksson added, “The suggested clinically relevant improvement in efficacy and the good safety and tolerability profile that we saw in the Phase 2 Proof-of-Concept trial support our plans for the larger study which we are preparing to launch. With the capabilities of our team and strong Scientific Advisory Board, we are well placed to undertake the next steps for progressing Ketabon towards more studies and the pathway to approval and commercialization.”


Ketabon is a joint venture between HMNC Brain Health and Develco Pharma. The company develops an oral prolonged-release formulation of ketamine for Treatment Resistant Depression (TRD) with minimal dissociative side effects. This prolonged-release formulation could significantly improve the risk profile and patient convenience, by minimizing dissociative side effects due to its unique pharmacokinetic profile compared to the currently applied intravenous and intranasal ketamine therapies. TRD patients with insufficient response to standard antidepressants represent 30% of an overall estimated number of 320 million patients worldwide suffering from major depressive disorder. In this group, prolonged-release ketamine has shown high response rates. Clinical development of oral prolonged-release ketamine could also potentially be expanded into other indications.


HMNC Brain Health (HMNC Holding GmbH) is a global precision psychiatry biopharma company, pioneering the development of personalized therapies, powered by its nascent AI platform and predictive companion diagnostics suite, leading to far shorter treatment durations, higher remission rates, and low side effects. The company develops a unique pipeline for targeting both Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Treatment-Resistant Depression (TRD). The company has operations in both the US and Germany and is backed by a renowned global VC, several family offices, and a strategic healthcare investor. HMNC Brain Health now enters the next stage of its development with a large-scale licensing and fundraising agenda.


With headquarters in Pratteln / Switzerland, Develco Pharma is a Swiss-German pharmaceutical company specializing in the development and manufacture of orally administered modified, prolonged & chrono release drugs containing known active ingredients. Established in 2006, today the company has a workforce of 130 employees. In Germany, a state-of-the-art production facility for analgesics & other indications has been in operation in Schopfheim, in the Baden region, since 2016. Develco identifies and defines pharmaceutical products containing known active ingredients and develops generic, hybrid, value added and innovative formulations backed by clinical data for the delayed or modified release of active ingredients. On the strength of its experience and innovativeness, the company has emerged as an internationally recognized provider of pharmaceuticals for the treatment of several disease areas. The customer base of Develco Pharma includes global pharmaceuticals groups. The company has some 180 market approvals in all (products of different dosages) in Europe, the US, Middle- East, South Africa, Asia, and Australia.


The Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics at the Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich is an internationally leading institute of translational research into innovative and novel biological and psychological treatments of psychiatric conditions, with a focus on Major Depression, Schizophrenia and Addiction. The translational approach is based on a comprehensive bio-psycho-social disease model overarching the full spectrum from molecular neuroscience to clinical and social psychiatry and back.

Media contacts
Alexander Schmidt (Europe)
+49 151 22 99 39 765[at]gaulyadvisors[dot]com

Anne Donohoe (U.S.)
+1 212-896-1265

Investor Contact (U.S.)
Sophia Bashford
+1 929 246 7307