Grant-Funded Projects on Affective Disorders

Affective Disorders - P4D-Study

Personalised, predictive, precise and preventive medicine to improve early detection, diagnostics, therapy and prevention of depressive illnesses (P4D)

Speaker, Consortium Coordination: Prof. Dr. med. Helge Frieling, Department of Psychiatry, Social Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Hannover Medical
Funding: BMBF
Project duration: 2022-2027


Currently, some people suffering from depression do not benefit from standard therapies or respond to therapy only after long-term treatment. So far, patients with depression have usually been treated with psychotherapy and/or antidepressants, which, however, only leads to a rapid and significant improvement in symptoms in about half of all patients. For example, the first antidepressant that is administered as part of a antidepressant therapy is only effective in every fourth to fifth patient. Antidepressants also sometimes lead to severe side effects.

This is due to the fact that different brain dysfunctions are hidden behind the clinical picture 'depression' on a neurobiological level. The aim of the P4D study is to identify these pathological structures and to develop patient-tailored diagnostic and treatment approaches based on the underlying mechanisms.

Instead of trying out different treatment methods as before, it should be possible in the future to determine an optimal treatment approach for each patient right from the start of depression treatment. This should not only ensure that more people with depression can be treated more effectively, but also that the faster return to quality of life reduces the risk of depression becoming chronic.

Project plans

From January 2024, around 1,000 inpatients will be recruited for P4D at the five participating university hospitals of Frankfurt, Greifswald, Hannover, Kiel and Würzburg. The study is characterized by the fact that all inpatients are comprehensively examined and many different parameters are recorded. In addition to a detailed examination and the course of therapy, as many other parameters as possible, such as various questionnaires on psychopathology, magnetic resonance imaging, electroencephalography, cognitive tests, sleep analyzes and blood samples, are collected and evaluated. The investigations also include a genome-wide long-read sequencing, enables the detection of almost all genetic and epigenetic changes.

Based on the data collected, machine learning methods will then be used to divide patients into diagnostic subgroups that respond particularly well to certain treatment procedures. In the future, it should then be possible to determine exactly which therapy is right for whom for each patient before therapy begins. A patient advisory board put together by the German Depression Aid Foundation for the research project critically monitors P4D and brings in the perspective of those affected.


Study centers and cooperations

Seven universities (Hannover Medical School (MHH), Leibniz University of Hannover, Technical University of Braunschweig, University of Frankfurt, University of Greifswald, University of Kiel, University of Würzburg) as well as the Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine, the German Depression Aid Foundation and the company BioVariance GmbH are involved in the P4D-study, led by the MHH.

Further information are available at P4D@