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Neuroscience and
mental health
at Manchester

Neuroscience and mental health at Manchester

Psychosis

The University of Manchester is one of the UK’s leading centres for research in psychosis treatment, management and prevention.

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Mental health problems are an important public health issue, making up a third of a GP’s case load. Approximately 1 in 100 people suffer from a psychotic disorder, but, despite this high prevalence, current treatments are limited. With partial effectiveness and serious side-effects, the need for a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms of the disease to determine new treatment targets is essential, as is better patient psychological care and management.

The University of Manchester has the second biggest group of multidisciplinary mental health researchers in the UK and runs more randomised, controlled treatment trials than any other UK centre. 

From expertise in understanding the underlying mechanisms of psychosis, including cognitive mechanisms, through to experimental medicine, at Manchester we have what it takes to help prevent psychosis and its recurrence.

From preclinical research to service innovation and patient care. The world works better with us.

Psychosis treatment

We’re collaborating on several multi-centre clinical trials to advance understanding of mechanisms in schizophrenia and to facilitate early intervention and improved patient outcomes.  

We are one of five groups in the UK collaborating on the STRATA (Schizophrenia, Treatment Resistances and Therapeutic Advances) initiative, developed to establish preliminary evidence suggesting glutamate may be overabundant in schizophrenia patients who do not respond to standard anti-psychotic treatments (dopamine blockers).

This research may allow development of a method to predict – ultimately as early as first hospital admission – which patients will respond to standard dopamine drugs, and which are instead more likely to respond to new glutamate drugs currently under development.

Pioneering the use of carbon-13 glucose magnetic resonance spectroscopy in a brain disorder, we are also working with the Universities of Nottingham and Cardiff, combining our expertise to determine whether neuronal glutamate and GABA synthesis and release are abnormal in early or established schizophrenia.

This research will have major implications for understanding schizophrenia and developing new biomarkers and treatments.

We are also interested in the role of neuroinflammation in schizophrenia, demonstrating that recovery from early psychosis is improved by taking the well-known anti-inflammatory antibiotic, minocycline. From initial successful studies in Brazil and Pakistan, studies are now underway in the UK, using brain imaging to determine if minocycline prevents changes in the grey matter associated with schizophrenia.

This research could lead to the development of safe treatments that prevent the brain changes associated with the onset of psychosis in high-risk groups, without harming those not destined to become psychotic.

We collaborate to advance our understanding of psychosis, and apply our findings to help patients across the globe. The world works better with us.

Psychosis management

We’re using mobile phones to improve quality of care for people with psychosis.

Funded by two grants from the Medical Research Council, we have developed ClinTouch – a mobile assessment tool designed to improve quality of care for people with psychosis by encouraging self-management and facilitating early intervention.

Developed by a team of world-recognised clinical researchers working with service users and software engineers, ClinTouch is an easy-to-use app that allows people more control over managing their symptoms through real-time symptom monitoring on their mobile phone. Brief questions are asked at various points throughout the day and results are wirelessly uploaded in real time onto a central computer, where they are collated. If the person wishes, the data can be accessed by the clinical team, enabling personalised early intervention to help prevent relapse and avert hospital admission.

ClinTouch has been formally assessed and found to be safe, reliable and feasible for most people with psychosis, over extended periods. We are now looking at models to roll this out more generally into the NHS, and have a formal partnership with the NHS Confederation to this end.

To find out more, visit the ClinTouch website.

From informatics to intervention. The world works better with us.