Volunteers needed as Peterborough and Cambridgeshire NHS trust tests new treatment for depression

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People in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire can volunteer with the NHS to help test a new treatment which could help millions of people living with depression.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) is running the Insight study to explore whether the anti-inflammatory drug tocilizumab – commonly used to treat arthritis - could fight some of the symptoms of depression.

Research suggests that low grade inflammation and overactivity of one aspect in the immune system may play a role in the development and persistence of depression. This study is testing the effects of tocilizumab on mood, attention and memory, and will give doctors greater insight into how inflammation could cause depression.

Mental health clinical research manager Katherine Cummergen said: “We are looking for people aged 20 to 65 with depression who are taking an antidepressant medication.

“Volunteers get a full health check as part of the eligibility assessment. Research is really important to improve care and we want to test new treatments to help as many people as possible. If you are interested, please contact the mental health team at the Windsor Research Unit based in Cambridge and Peterborough to join the study.”

CPFT is working with researchers at the University of Cambridge, in partnership with Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and the study is supported by the Wellcome Trust and the BMA Foundation.

Leading the investigation is CPFT honorary consultant psychiatrist Dr Golam Khandaker with fellow members of the Inflammation and Psychiatry Research Group, investigating links between the immune system and neuropsychiatric brain disorders - like depression and schizophrenia.

Dr Khandaker said: “Depression causes suffering to millions of people and a considerable proportion of them do not get better, so we need new treatments.

“This study will give us more insights into whether inflammation plays a role in causing depression and whether anti-inflammatory drugs may be used for treating some patients in future.”

Who can take part?

. Volunteers from Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Fenland, Norfolk and Suffolk.

. Anyone aged 20 to 65 who is currently depressed and taking an antidepressant medication.

. With no infection or antibiotic treatment in the last four weeks at the time of taking part.

. Volunteers must have no other current or previous diagnosis of bipolar disorder, psychotic disorder and personality disorder.

What does it involve?

Participants will need to provide blood samples as part of the eligibility assessment and subsequent research visits. Eligible participants taking part in the trial will receive an intravenous infusion of either tocilizumab or a placebo (dummy drug) over an hour, have their pulse and blood pressure checked, and answer questions on how they feel.

Follow-up research visits will take place at week one, two and four after the infusion to check on progress, and participants can opt out at any stage of the process.

To join this research contact the mental health team at CPFT’s Windsor Research Unit on 01223 219517 for Cambridge or 01733 353280 for Peterborough, or email wru@cpft.nhs.uk.