Paid volunteers are needed to take part in a study that is being held at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London.
PSYSCAN (psyscan . eu), is an international study, which is being held in several European countries, as well as Brazil, Canada, Israel, South Korea, China and Australia. It is designed to help doctors and medical researchers understand more about how genes, the environment, brain functioning, and thinking skills increase the risk of someone experiencing psychosis.
We are recruiting three distinct groups of individuals for the PSYSCAN study: 1) 465 individuals who have experienced their first episode of psychosis; 2) 330 people who are at risk of developing psychosis; and 3) 170 healthy volunteers (or ‘controls’). Data will be compared across the groups.
What is psychosis?
Psychosis is a disorder that makes it difficult for people to distinguish between what is real and what is not, it can cause problems with being able to think clearly, manage emotions and relate to other people. Some people with psychosis may hear voices, others might see things that are not there, and some may have the feeling that they are being watched or followed. Feeling flat emotionally, lacking motivation and having difficulties with concentration and /or memory can also be a part of psychosis.
The disorder progresses differently for each affected person; not all individuals with a high risk of developing psychosis will actually go on to develop a full-blown psychotic disorder. Similarly, after a first episode of acute psychosis, some individuals make a good recovery, whereas others have a series of relapses and remissions or they experience psychotic symptoms continuously for a long period.
What do we expect to learn from this project?
At the moment, there is no way to reliably predict the onset, disease course and outcome of psychosis in those considered ‘at risk’ or in those with first episode of psychosis, at an individual level, being able to do so would enable doctors to tailor the psychiatric care to the needs of each patient and provide personalised care.
We expect that we can make predictions for an individual patient when we combine a lot of information from one person: for example, type and level of symptoms, specific blood markers, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, cognitive measurements.
What happens during this study?
The PSYSCAN study will involve 3 visits over 1 year (baseline, 6 and 12 months). During the visit you will undergo an assessment of any psychological symptoms you may have experienced (using questionnaires and interviews), an assessment of your thinking skills, like memory and attention (using cognitive tests) and an examination of your brain structure and function (using an MRI scan). Additionally, the study will involve the use of blood tests to allow us to look for certain types of blood cells (e.g. genes, proteins, and other blood-based biomarkers) and saliva samples to measure your stress hormones. We will also ask you for two small hair samples of about 8-12 hairs each; one sample will be re-programmed into stem cells, thereby allowing us to generate human neural (brain) cells and enable the investigation of cellular and molecular mechanisms, the other hair sample will be used to examine long-term levels of stress hormones (over the past 1-6 months, depending on hair length).
Is participation voluntary?
Participation in this study is entirely voluntary. You are free to decide whether or not to participate. If you decide to participate, you are free to withdraw from the study at any time and for whatever reason.
Will I be paid if I take part in the study?
If you decide to participate in the study, you will be reimbursed for your time and your expenses will be paid.
Who can participate?
There are some criteria that you need to meet before you can participate, these are listed below:
You need to be:
• aged between 16 and 40 years
• willing and safe to undergo an MRI scan (individuals with large amounts of metal in their body e.g. pacemaker/metal plates/rods that are not titanium) cannot participate due to safety issues regarding the MRI scan)
• willing to have blood drawn
You cannot participate if you have a history of:
• any psychiatric disorder
• a neurological disorder
• have had neurosurgery
• have had a head injury resulting in unconsciousness lasting at least 1 hour
Are there benefits or risks for participants?
There are no direct benefits for participating in the study. However, the study may help us to better predict disease onset, course and outcome for individuals with psychosis and by participating, you may contribute to the development of medical knowledge of which people with psychosis could benefit.
There are no known risks associated with participating in interviews, completing questionnaires or performing psychological tests that assess thinking skills. The MRI scan procedure is painless and safe and there are no known health risks involved. The risks associated with the blood sampling are comparable to those of routine blood tests, i.e. mild discomfort and occasionally a small bruise around the area from which the blood has been drawn.
CONTACT FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
If you are interested in participating in this study, please contact the study researchers directly for further information, by emailing George and Natalia at psyscanuk @ gmail .com or call 020 7848 0534.
The PSYSCAN Team
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