February 10th, 2022

// Ontario Brain Institute Releases New Dataset to Accelerate Research on Depression

Ontario Brain Institute Releases New Dataset to Accelerate Research on Depression

Standardized, cleaned, and curated data from a CAN-BIND study examining Major Depressive Disorder are now available for the global research community on Brain-CODE

TORONTO, Feb. 10, 2022 /CNW/ - During the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns about mental health have increased, while calls for collaboration and open science across the research community have grown louder. Enter the Canadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression (CAN-BIND), one of the Ontario Brain Institute's six Integrated Discovery Programs, from which a detailed and multi-modal dataset has just been made accessible to the global research community.

"As Ontario, along with the rest of the world, has contended with the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become even more important to support research and innovation in the province's health care sector, including advancements in mental health," said Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities. "Throughout the pandemic, the Ontario Brain Institute has played a valuable role in connecting clinicians, researchers, industry and patients with an open science approach, tearing down health care silos, and building new partnerships to help rethink the way we deliver better care to Ontarians."

CAN-BIND's foundational study features a deeply phenotyped cohort of 211 people with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and 112 healthy individuals across six Canadian clinical sites. Data have been standardized, cleaned, and curated to allow maximum utility for analysis across disease and across platform, and are now available on Brain-CODE, the neuroinformatics platform of the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI). This is the fourth clinical data release on Brain-CODE since the platform was launched early 2021. The first three sets focused on neurodegenerative conditions, neurodevelopmental disorders, and concussion.

Tom Mikkelsen, OBI's President & Scientific Director, says that data sharing has the potential to help improve the health of the one in three Canadians living with a brain disorder. 

"We believe that Brain-CODE is the much-needed tool to accelerate brain health research and innovation, bringing benefits to both patients and the economy. In terms of mental health, this means that by collecting, standardizing, and releasing this depression dataset, through CAN-BIND, we are discovering ways to identify the right treatment for the right person in order to help individuals with depression get well quickly and stay well."

During the CAN-BIND foundational study, participants with MDD received escitalopram, an antidepressant, for eight weeks. After eight weeks, if depressive symptoms did not improve, participants then received escitalopram in combination with aripiprazole, an augmentation treatment often used to treat MDD, for a further eight weeks. Throughout the study, participants were assessed with 29 clinical instruments and questionnaires, structural and functional MRI, resting state and task-based EEG, and genomic and molecular measures. The aim of the study is to identify biomarkers that predict treatment response in people with depression. This data release contains baseline data for all participants.

According to Dr. Sidney Kennedy, lead investigator for CAN-BIND: "The detailed and multi-modal nature of the dataset provides unique opportunities to identify integrated biomarkers that predict individual treatment response."

Brain-CODE, OBI's neuroinformatics platform, is a strong example of how the international research community can share data on a global scale, leading to improved care.

"As the tool that allows researchers to ask questions that span disorders, disciplines, and sectors, in the open science landscape, Brain-CODE has the potential to tell a story unheard of before," explains Dr. Mikkelsen. "Data sharing is truly the missing link to breaking down barriers in research."

Learn more about OBI's data releases on the Brain-CODE website.


The Ontario Brain Institute is a not-for-profit organization that accelerates discovery and innovation, benefiting both patients and the economy. Our collaborative 'team science' approach promotes brain research, commercialization, and care by connecting researchers, clinicians, industry, patients, and their advocates to improve the lives of those living with brain disorders. Funding provided, in part by, the Government of Ontario. 

The Canadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression (CAN-BIND) is a national program of research and learning carried out in partnership with OBI. The community includes persons with lived experience, caregivers, researchers, healthcare providers, government agencies, industry partners, and mental health advocates who are working together to achieve mental wellness for all Canadians. 

Brain-CODE is OBI's state-of-the-art neuroinformatics platform where data streams from OBI's six research programs is assimilated, stored, and analyzed. OBI's Brain-CODE is a "shared brain" for researchers in Ontario and beyond.

For more information:

RenĂ©e Dunk, Senior Communications Lead, Ontario Brain Institute: rdunk@braininstitute.ca, 416-562-2695

Allison Garber, Consultant, Ontario Brain Institute: allison@allisongarber.ca, 902-221-5254

SOURCE Ontario Brain Institute


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