Life sciences company Medlab reckons increasing gut bacteria levels could provide an effective boost for treating for depression – and it has some research on its side.

A study just published in Nature Microbiology of 2,000 people in Europe showed those with depression had depleted amounts of a certain strain of bacteria in their gut.

That fits with Medlab’s own earlier research and results from Phase 1 trials of its NRGBiotic.

It’s just opened a second round of recruitment for a Phase 2a clinical trial, led by Queensland University of Technology and designed to meet the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s requirements for expedited drug approval.

Up to 150 people will take part in the trial, which squarely aims to show that “improving gut health with NRGBiotic will make standard depression medicine more effective”.

More than 300 million people suffer from depression worldwide, and 45% of Australians aged 16-85 years have met the criteria for a diagnosis of a mental disorder at least once in their life.

MedLab managing director Dr Sean Hall said the company had “substantial anecdotal evidence” of NRGBiotic’s positive effects, as it was available in pharmacies.

“But we’re taking the clinical trial route to provide scientific validation and a drug pathway,” he said.

MedLab specialises in developing therapies for pain management, depression and obesity. It is also currently developing cannabis-based medicines and has developed a nano-particle medicine delivery system, Nanocelle.