Menu

SINAPPS: Immunotherapy for Psychosis

What is this research?

There is some evidence that around 9% of people who present with psychosis have very particular kinds of antibodies in their blood. Essentially, the body is acting as if it is fighting an infection, triggering an inflammation response and psychosis soon follows. This is called “antibody-associated psychosis”, or sometimes “autoimmune psychosis”, “autoimmune encephalitis” or “antibody-mediated psychosis”. There are several names because it is not clear the exact role antibodies play in psychosis.

People who have these antibodies often have symptoms that are very similar to those seen in schizophrenia. So much so that people are often treated in mental health services and given anti-psychotic medication. You can view this booklet about antibody-mediated psychosis. See the resources section below for a booklet about inflammation and mental health generally.

A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford have received funding from the Stanley Medical Research Institute for a one-year study involving people with psychosis who have the antibodies that cause antibody-mediated encephalitis to learn more about the condition. This is the SINAPPS 1 study.

The team will then investigate a possible new way of treating people with antibody-mediated psychosis. The research is funded by the Medical Research Council and is known as the SINAPPS 2 study.

Why is this research important?

Psychosis can be a frightening and distressing experience. It can disrupt your life, making you feel tired and overwhelmed. This research could have the potential to lead to a new way of treating a small but significant proportion of people with psychosis. The study may also help to better understand what causes psychosis in this group of people.

How are McPin and people affected by psychosis involved in this research?

The McPin Foundation are facilitating the service user involvement for the study in the form of a Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP) of seven service users. The LEAP provides advice and assistance to the wider study team. Members of the LEAP will also assist with developing a much larger follow-up study which will take place across England.

Find out what it is like to be a member of the SINAPPs LEAP here.

How long will the project run?

The study began in July 2015 and is expected to run until December 2021. Currently, participants are being recruited for this study.

Who do I contact for more information?

You can find out more about this research on the SINAPPS group website.

Please contact Thomas Kabir or Tillie Cryer by email: thomaskabir@mcpin.org | tilliecryer@mcpin.org or phone: 0207 922 7874 for more information.

Resources

The LEAP and McPin have put together a booklet the explains how inflammation can sometimes affect mental health. It goes over the evidence, tests and treatment options available as well as answering some of the questions that people often ask doctors and other healthcare professionals.

For more information specifically about antibody-mediated psychosis, check out this booklet written by a service user.