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A proportion of patients with psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia may have a treatable autoimmune condition underlying their symptoms. We have shown, for the first time that patients with a first episode of psychosis had antibodies against the NMDA receptor or Voltage Gated Potassium Channel.

Autoimmune causes of schizophrenia

In other patients with these antibodies removal of the antibodies with immunotherapy leads to clinical improvement, and this opens the opportunity for a different therapeutic approach to psychiatric disorders. University of Oxford is leading the way in developing the assays for these disorders, led by Professor Angela Vincent in Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences. Dr Belinda Lennox in the Department of Psychiatry is leading an MRC funded national study to assess the prevalence of these antibodies in patients with psychosis, and is setting up a new treatment service for patients with these disorders in collaboration with Dr Camilla Buckley in Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust.