Schizophrenia

HEALTH INFORMATION

Understanding causes, improving treatments

WHAT WE KNOW

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that emerges in adolescence or young adulthood and affects approximately 1 in 100 people in Australia and worldwide. It causes difficulties in thinking and unusual experiences such as hearing unpleasant voices or having false and sometimes bizarre beliefs. People with schizophrenia often avoid family and friends, lack motivation and are often unable to work.

While the exact causes are not known, we believe that genetic and environmental influences combine to create abnormal changes in brain development that cause the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Current treatments are designed to suppress these symptoms and do not target the cause of the disorder. These drugs only partially relieve symptoms and can produce unwanted side effects.

We are currently investigating several new treatments, including the use of an immune treatment, with the aim of improving symptoms and cognitive functioning.

OUR LATEST RESEARCH

Biomarkers in Healthy Adults and Siblings of People with Schizophrenia (BHASS) study

What is the purpose of the study?

We are interested in how the immune system influences the brain. We are seeking volunteer research participants to learn about how immune markers in the blood relate to cognition, behaviour and brain activity.

Would the research project be a good fit for me?

The study might be good for you if:

  • You are between the ages of 18-60 and you are a healthy adult with or without a

sibling who has a diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder

  • You DO NOT have a personal history of schizophrenia, seizures, substance abuse or

dependence (within past 3 years), head injury or loss of consciousness, central nervous system infections

What would happen if I took part in the research project?

If you decide to take part you would visit Neuroscience Research Australia to complete the following:

  • Perform cognitive tests and questionnaires (within 2 hours)
  • Provide a blood sample
  • Receive a short medical examination including a visual eye, nose, and throat exam,

lungs and heart (using stethoscope) exam, body temperature, blood pressure, and

brief medical history

  • Receive an MRI scan (approx. 1 hr) which includes performing computer-based

cognitive tests

Will I be paid to take part in the research project?

Your participation in this study may have associated expenses. Reimbursement will be provided for your time and for out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel to the centre.

 

Who do I contact if I want more information or want to take part in the study?

If you would like more information or are interested in being part of the study please contact a member of our research team:

Alice Zhen on 02 9399 1858 email: a.zhen@neura.edu.au

Associate Professor Thomas Weickert on 02 9399 1730, email: t.weickert@neura.edu.au

 

Blood biomarkers in melancholic and non-melancholic subtypes of depression study

A study of men and women between 18 to 70 years of age with a diagnosis of either melancholic or non-melancholic depression to research the extent to which blood biomarkers may be elevated in melancholic and non-melancholic subtypes of depression.

 

Contact Information

 

If you are interested or have any questions, please feel free to contact a member of the research team: Alice Zhen at (02) 9399 1858, email: a.zhen@neura.edu.au

Identification and characterisation of ST8SIA2: a generalised mental illness susceptibility gene

Together with Professor Peter Schofield (NeuRA) and Professor Philip Mitchell (Black Dog Institute), our group is investigating the genetic contributors to bipolar disorder using Australian families with multiple individuals who have been diagnosed with the disorder.

The group previously identified a bipolar susceptibility locus located on chromosome 15 in a pooled analysis of 35 families. More detailed analysis of this region has identified a single gene, which confers an increased susceptibility to both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and has also been implicated as a risk factor for autism.

The group is now aiming to understand how alterations in ST8SIA2 translate into an increased genetic susceptibility by characterising alterations in the DNA, RNA and protein product of this gene and its interaction partners in patients with either bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Neuregulin Dependent Neuronal Migration and Schizophrenia

The path to developing therapies to prevent schizophrenia involves research on how risk genes influence brain development and structure.

Enhancing Neurogenesis in Adult Primate Brain

Since brain disease often involves neuronal death, research into strategies to restore neuronal numbers could lead to improved function and recovery in patients.

CATS Study

Canakinumab adjunctive treatment to reduce symptoms and improve cognition in people with schizophrenia displaying elevated blood inflammatory markers

NeuroSleep: A NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence

This project aims to understand the bidirectional relationship between sleep and the brain to test and develop new approaches to treatment for sleep disruption across a range of medical disorders.  

Schizotypal personality traits and striatal function

This study tests the relationship among probabilistic association learning , schizotypal personality traits, striatal function and genes important to striatal function.

Canakinumab Add-on Treatment for Schizophrenia (CATS) Study

You are invited to participate in a research study using a human immune cell-line antibody to improve language, memory, and reduce symptoms of schizophrenia.

tDCS treatment for auditory hallucinations and thinking problems in schizophrenia

We are recruiting people with schizophrenia to take part in a study of the effects of transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) upon thinking problems and some of the symptoms that occur with schizophrenia.

What else is happening in Schizophrenia research at NeuRA?

FEEL THE BUZZ IN THE AIR? US TOO.

Biomarkers in Healthy Adults and Siblings of People with Schizophrenia (BHASS) study

What is the purpose of the study? We are interested in how the immune system influences the brain. We are seeking volunteer research participants to learn about how immune markers in the blood relate to cognition, behaviour and brain activity. Would the research project be a good fit for me? The study might be good for you if: You are between the ages of 18-60 and you are a healthy adult with or without a sibling who has a diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder You DO NOT have a personal history of schizophrenia, seizures, substance abuse or dependence (within past 3 years), head injury or loss of consciousness, central nervous system infections What would happen if I took part in the research project? If you decide to take part you would visit Neuroscience Research Australia to complete the following: Perform cognitive tests and questionnaires (within 2 hours) Provide a blood sample Receive a short medical examination including a visual eye, nose, and throat exam, lungs and heart (using stethoscope) exam, body temperature, blood pressure, and brief medical history Receive an MRI scan (approx. 1 hr) which includes performing computer-based cognitive tests Will I be paid to take part in the research project? Your participation in this study may have associated expenses. Reimbursement will be provided for your time and for out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel to the centre.   Who do I contact if I want more information or want to take part in the study? If you would like more information or are interested in being part of the study please contact a member of our research team: Alice Zhen on 02 9399 1858 email: a.zhen@neura.edu.au Associate Professor Thomas Weickert on 02 9399 1730, email: t.weickert@neura.edu.au  
PROJECT