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  • SNORD-host RNA Zfas1 is a regulator of mammary development and a potential marker for breast cancer.

    3 November 2018

    Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are increasingly recognized to play major regulatory roles in development and disease. To identify novel regulators in breast biology, we identified differentially regulated lncRNAs during mouse mammary development. Among the highest and most differentially expressed was a transcript (Zfas1) antisense to the 5' end of the protein-coding gene Znfx1. In vivo, Zfas1 RNA is localized within the ducts and alveoli of the mammary gland. Zfas1 intronically hosts three previously undescribed C/D box snoRNAs (SNORDs): Snord12, Snord12b, and Snord12c. In contrast to the general assumption that noncoding SNORD-host transcripts function only as vehicles to generate snoRNAs, knockdown of Zfas1 in a mammary epithelial cell line resulted in increased cellular proliferation and differentiation, while not substantially altering the levels of the SNORDs. In support of an independent function, we also found that Zfas1 is extremely stable, with a half-life >16 h. Expression analysis of the SNORDs revealed these were expressed at different levels, likely a result of distinct structures conferring differential stability. While there is relatively low primary sequence conservation between Zfas1 and its syntenic human ortholog ZFAS1, their predicted secondary structures have similar features. Like Zfas1, ZFAS1 is highly expressed in the mammary gland and is down-regulated in breast tumors compared to normal tissue. We propose a functional role for Zfas1/ ZFAS1 in the regulation of alveolar development and epithelial cell differentiation in the mammary gland, which, together with its dysregulation in human breast cancer, suggests ZFAS1 as a putative tumor suppressor gene.

  • lncRNAdb: a reference database for long noncoding RNAs.

    3 November 2018

    Large numbers of long RNAs with little or no protein-coding potential [long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs)] are being identified in eukaryotes. In parallel, increasing data describing the expression profiles, molecular features and functions of individual lncRNAs in a variety of systems are accumulating. To enable the systematic compilation and updating of this information, we have developed a database (lncRNAdb) containing a comprehensive list of lncRNAs that have been shown to have, or to be associated with, biological functions in eukaryotes, as well as messenger RNAs that have regulatory roles. Each entry contains referenced information about the RNA, including sequences, structural information, genomic context, expression, subcellular localization, conservation, functional evidence and other relevant information. lncRNAdb can be searched by querying published RNA names and aliases, sequences, species and associated protein-coding genes, as well as terms contained in the annotations, such as the tissues in which the transcripts are expressed and associated diseases. In addition, lncRNAdb is linked to the UCSC Genome Browser for visualization and Noncoding RNA Expression Database (NRED) for expression information from a variety of sources. lncRNAdb provides a platform for the ongoing collation of the literature pertaining to lncRNAs and their association with other genomic elements. lncRNAdb can be accessed at:

  • State of the art reporting of network meta-analyses

    3 November 2018

    © 2015 Nova Science Publishers, Inc. Even though increasingly popular in scientific journals, results from Network Meta-Analysis (NMA) remain challenging to interpret, mainly because of the complexity of the statistical analyses and the large number of study findings. The presentation of results in an accessible and understandable format is one of the key issues in properly conducted NMAs. There are several graphical tools (figures and tables) that can provide readers with a comprehensive and straightforward overview of findings about all the most important components of NMAs. However, it should be emphasized that over-interpretation of graphical tools in NMAs or their interpretation in isolation should be avoided, as conclusions should always be drawn in combination with the numerical results.

  • Young people who self-harm: a prospective 1-year follow-up study.

    3 November 2018

    PURPOSE: To explore repetition, service provision and service engagement following presentation of young people to emergency services with self-harm. METHODS: 969 patients who presented to accident and emergency services after self-harm were followed up prospectively for a period of 1 year. Data on rates, method, clinical history, initial service provision, engagement and repetition (defined as re-presenting to emergency services with further self-harm) were gathered from comprehensive electronic records. RESULTS: Young people were less likely to repeat self-harm compared to those aged 25 and above. A psychiatric history and a history of childhood trauma were significant predictors of repetition. Young people were more likely to receive self-help as their initial service provision, and less likely to receive acute psychiatric care or a hospital admission. There were no differences in engagement with services between young people and those aged 25 and above. CONCLUSION: Younger individuals may be less vulnerable to repetition, and are less likely to represent to services with repeated self-harm. All young people who present with self-harm should be screened for mental illness and asked about childhood trauma. Whilst young people are less likely to be referred to psychiatric services, they do attend when referred. This may indicate missed opportunity for intervention.

  • Affective instability, childhood trauma and major affective disorders.

    3 November 2018

    BACKGROUND: Affective instability (AI), childhood trauma, and mental illness are linked, but evidence in affective disorders is limited, despite both AI and childhood trauma being associated with poorer outcomes. Aims were to compare AI levels in bipolar disorder I (BPI) and II (BPII), and major depressive disorder recurrent (MDDR), and to examine the association of AI and childhood trauma within each diagnostic group. METHODS: AI, measured using the Affective Lability Scale (ALS), was compared between people with DSM-IV BPI (n=923), BPII (n=363) and MDDR (n=207) accounting for confounders and current mood. Regression modelling was used to examine the association between AI and childhood traumas in each diagnostic group. RESULTS: ALS scores in descending order were BPII, BPI, MDDR, and differences between groups were significant (p<0.05). Within the BPI group any childhood abuse (p=0.021), childhood physical abuse (p=0.003) and the death of a close friend in childhood (p=0.002) were significantly associated with higher ALS score but no association was found between childhood trauma and AI in BPII and MDDR. LIMITATIONS: The ALS is a self-report scale and is subject to retrospective recall bias. CONCLUSIONS: AI is an important dimension in bipolar disorder independent of current mood state. There is a strong link between childhood traumatic events and AI levels in BPI and this may be one way in which exposure and disorder are linked. Clinical interventions targeting AI in people who have suffered significant childhood trauma could potentially change the clinical course of bipolar disorder.

  • Autistic Traits in an Internet Sample of Gender Variant UK Adults

    3 November 2018

    © 2015, Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Recent studies have reported a high prevalence of autistic spectrum conditions (ASCs) in adults with gender dysphoria (GD) versus the general population (Jones et al., 2012; Pasterski, Gilligan, & Curtis, 2014). This study utilized snowball sampling to collect data on gender identities, self-reported diagnoses of ASCs, and AQ-10 scores of individuals with GD. Of 446 respondents, 14% reported an ASC diagnosis. Higher AQ-10 scores were observed in those defining as male (M = 5.66, 95% CI [5.10, 6.22]) versus those defining as female (M = 4.25, 95% CI [3.55, 4.35]) and in those assigned female-at-birth (M = 5.67, 99.9% CI [4.91, 6.43]) versus those assigned as male-at-birth (M = 4.11, 99.9% CI [3.53, 4.69]). The genderqueer group (M = 5.73, 95% CI = [5.20, 6.26]) had the highest observed mean AQ-10 score. This study has implications for the management of those with GD and for researchers owing to both the large number of nonbinary individuals identified and to the complexities identified surrounding language when researching this group.

  • Understanding auditory verbal hallucinations: a systematic review of current evidence.

    3 November 2018

    OBJECTIVE: Auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs) are core features of psychotic illness and remain significant in predicting poor outcome and risk. There has been a wide range of approaches to understanding these experiences. METHOD: A systematic literature review summarizing different methods of investigation and their results; phenomenology, descriptive psychopathology, psychological, cognitive neurobiology, and neuroimaging. RESULTS: A number of 764 papers and texts were screened and 113 reviewed. Phenomenological studies are comparably few in number, and psychopathology remains based on concepts defined in the early 20th century. Psychological models focus on voice content and emotional reaction, and suggest a continuum of AVHs from normal experience. Neuropsychological models include AVHs as misattribution of inner speech, whilst functional neuroimaging studies focus on the spontaneous activity and connectivity of auditory networks. CONCLUSION: There has been a large growth in research on AVHs in recent decades dominated by neurobiological and neuroimaging studies. Future research should include focus on phenomenological aspects and AVHs change over the course of developing illness. Integration between branches of enquiry is needed, and the risk is that without this, models are proposed and investigated that bear scant relevance to the symptom itself.

  • Does drug treatment reduce the risk of further self-harm or suicide?: Commentary on… cochrane corner

    3 November 2018

    © 2016, Royal College of Psychiatrists. All rights reserved. Self-harm is a significant social and healthcare problem, with substantial morbidity and healthcare costs. It has strong links to further self-harm and to suicide. The current review is one of three that investigate interventions in preventing recurrence of self-harm, and it focuses on pharmacological treatment. The conclusions are limited by the small number and size of trials identified, and the low quality of evidence. No benefit on recurrence of self-harm was detected in three small trials of antidepressants, but the types studied are ones that are now less commonly used. A small trial of flupentixol suggested a possible benefit on repetition, but this has not been replicated. One small trial of lithium showed no benefit, but this was in contrast to a recent large meta-analysis showing a significant anti-suicidal effect of lithium when used to treat mood disorder. The review highlights important areas for further research.

  • Internet-delivered therapy for anxiety disorders: A solution to unequal access to treatment?: Commentary on... Cochrane Corner

    3 November 2018

    Anxiety disorders are common, often have a chronic course and frequently coexist with other psychiatric disorders. Psychological therapy is recommended as first-line treatment, but equitable access remains a challenge. This month's Cochrane Corner review assesses the evidence for the efficacy of therapist-supported cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) for anxiety disorders delivered via the internet. Although internet delivery of therapy is attractive for many reasons, and the results of this preliminary review suggest that it is efficacious, this is a rapidly expanding field. Further updates of this review will include more evidence to support or refute the use of this new method of treatment delivery, either alongside or in preference to standard face-to- face CBT.

  • First Oxford Short Course in Experimental Medicine for Mental Health: 6-8 January 2019

    28 January 2019

    This NEW Oxford Short Course in Experimental Medicine for Mental Health (OxCEMM) offers a thorough grounding in the practicalities of running an experimental medicine study through talks, tours of facilities and round table discussions with senior researchers.

  • BBC: Could psychosis be an autoimmune disease?

    5 March 2018

    As part of an online BBC series - 'Rethinking mental illness' - Prof Belinda Lennox explains her latest research and the new direction it is taking the treatment of psychiatric disorders.

  • Intervention with HIV-positive parents successfully increases HIV-disclosure to young children

    5 September 2017

    Ground breaking research led by a team of South African scientists proves that, given the right support, HIV-positive parents will disclose their status to their primary school aged children - with enormous potential for protecting children’s health in the long term.

  • Oxford graduates take honours at this year’s Royal College of Psychiatrists Awards

    12 November 2015

    Dr Sophie Behrman wins Higher Psychiatric Trainee of the Year and Dr Michael Bloomfield wins Core Trainee of the Year.

  • REF 2014: Oxford Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience excel

    18 December 2014

    Today’s Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) results highlight the University of Oxford’s world leading position in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience.

  • Depression, the secret we share

    31 May 2015

    "The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality, and it was vitality that seemed to seep away from me in that moment." In a talk equal parts eloquent and devastating, writer Andrew Solomon takes you to the darkest corners of his mind during the years he battled depression. That led him to an eye-opening journey across the world to interview others with depression — only to discover that, to his surprise, the more he talked, the more people wanted to tell their own stories. (Filmed at TEDxMet.)

  • Good news - Athena SWAN

    26 September 2013

    We are delighted to announce that the Department has achieved the Bronze Award, the award ceremony is yet to be announced, but we can start to use the award logo! All thanks to Liz Tunbridge in leading on the application, to the Department Athena SWAN committee for their support and to everyone in the department who has contributed ideas or taken part in focus groups. We are already working towards the submission for the Silver award. Pam Taylor Departmental Administrator

  • Keith Hawton awarded Morselli Medal

    27 June 2013

    Keith Hawton FAcadMedSci has been awarded the Morselli Medal by the International Academy for Suicide Research for "outstanding and enduring achievements in the science and art of suicide prevention".

  • Lithium reduces risk of death and suicide by more than 60% in people with mood disorders

    27 June 2013

    The drug lithium is an effective treatment for reducing the risk of suicide and possibly deliberate self harm in people with mood disorders, finds an evidence review published today on The authors say the drug “seems to reduce the risk of death and suicide by more than 60% compared with placebo” and suggest this review “reinforces lithium as an effective agent to reduce the risk of suicide in people with mood disorders.”