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The Department of Psychiatry is closely involved in a Wellcome study to investigate whether depression can be treated by targeting the immune system.

Co-applicant, Prof Phil Cowen, and Oxford PI, Dr Mary Jane Attenburrow, are spearheading the Oxford effort for ‘BIODEP ‘Biomarkers in depression’’.


The consortium’s initial findings, which are consistent with other studies, suggest that the third of patients for whom antidepressant drugs don’t work may have higher-than-normal levels of inflammation, a function of the immune system. That means there is an association between inflammation and depression. But the consortium is exploring the idea that, in these patients, the inflammation is actually causing the depression. - The Spectator


‘BIODEP’ is a clinical biomarker study of immunological phenotypes associated with monoaminergic antidepressant response, and the brain and cognitive phenotypes associated with variation in peripheral inflammatory markers such as CRP, in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD).

Much of the research will take place at the NIHR Oxford cognitive health Clinical Research Facility located on the Warneford Hospital site, and also at FMRIB based at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

The study is multisite, led by Professor Ed Bullmore in Cambridge. It is an observational cohort study employing techniques for peripheral and central immunological phenotyping including MRI and PET, though should subsequently lead on to a treatment study in patients with depression linked to an inflammatory mechanism.

Cohort 1 has been successfully recruited and the study is currently recruiting to Cohort 2 - looking for participants who have Major Depression and high CRP levels, also normal volunteers.


Read the full article ‘Depression, a disease of the mind? Actually our immune system could be the culprit’ in The Spectator.

Watch the video: Could an overactive immune system cause depression? BBC online, 22.5.17





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