Latest R&D news 


More than 10,000 people in research studies

CPFT staff have made the biggest contribution to the success of recruiting people to dementia, mental health and neurology research studies in the East of England over the past three years. In total 10,671 people have taken part in National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) portfolio research. The NIHR Clinical Research Network Eastern gives practical support to NHS researchers in the East of England. Teams are based in Peterborough and at the Windsor Research Unit, Fulbourn to help support CPFT staff conduct research into community and physical health. Ben Underwood, CPFT’s Clinical Director for the Older People’s and Adult Community Directorate and Clinical Lead for CRN Eastern for mental health, dementia and neurology, praised the effort of colleagues:

“It is fantastic news that more than 10,000 people have participated in research into dementia, mental health and neurology. Volunteers play a crucial role in increasing our knowledge and contributing to the development of new interventions and drugs for neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis as well as depression and schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

“It is a testament to the efforts of CPFT clinicians and research teams in our other local trusts that we have exceeded our recruitment target for last year. There is further exciting work ongoing and on the horizon which we hope will lead to new and better treatments for these conditions.”

CPFT and University of Cambridge develop open-source software to create anonymous secure medical research databases.

Dr Rudolf Cardinal,a psychiatrist in .CPFT’s Liaison Psychiatry Service and a researcher in the University of Cambridge, has published open-source de-identification software named CRATE (Clinical Records Anonymisation and Text Extraction). It can take clinical records, remove identifying information to create a research database, automatically collate information such as questionnaire scores or blood tests from notes typed in by clinicians, and operate CPFT’s pioneering consent system through which patients can choose to be contacted about research (see → The CPFT Research Database). Researchers hope that it will support more research and more opportunities for patients to join research studies if they wish. For more information click here

CPFT approves Lewy Body disorders study 

Led by Dr Li Su and  Professor John O’Brien, the Multimodal Imaging in Lewy Body Disorders (MILOS) project, which has just been approved, aims to detect the damage to brain structure and function associated with Lewy Body Disorder. Dr Li Su said: "First, we use a brain scan calledmagnetoencephalography (MEG), to detect and measure electrical activity or sometime called brain waves in the brain. Second, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to measure changes in brain structure. Third, Positron Emission Tomography (PET) will be used to detect damaged protein (amyloid using the well-establishedPIB radioligand) in living brains that are indicative of pathology associated with Alzheimer's disease. The study will further our understanding on how Lewy Body disorders affect thepatient’s brain and how to detect these conditions and treat them in the future."  It has been funded by the Lewy Body Society, Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust and Alzheimer’s Research UK.  

The immune system and mental health - antibodies to combat 'friendly fire' 

Our immune systems are meant to keep us healthy, but sometimes they turn their fire on us, with devastating results. Immunotherapies can help defend against this ‘friendly fire’ – and even weaponise it in our defence. But while diseases such as Crohn’s and asthma have long been understood to be a consequence of ‘friendly fire’, scientists are starting to see this phenomenon give rise to more surprising conditions, particularly in mental health. In 2009, Professor Belinda Lennox, then at Cambridge and now at Oxford, led a study that showed that 7% of patients with psychoses tested positive for antibodies that attacked a particular receptor in the brain, the NMDA receptor. This blocked a key neurotransmitter, affecting communication between nerve cells and causing the symptoms. Professor Alasdair Coles from Cambridge’s Department of Clinical Neurosciences is working with Lennox on a trial to identify patients with this particular antibody and reverse its effects. One of their treatments involves harnessing the immune system – weaponising it, one might say – to attack rogue warriors using rituximab, a monoclonal antibody therapy that kills off B-cells, the cells that generate antibodies. “You can make monoclonal antibodies for experimental purposes against anything you like within a few days,” explains Coles. “In contrast, to come up with a small molecule – the alternative sort of drug – takes a long, long time.”  Excerpts from the latest issue of June's Research Horizons published by the University of Cambridge. Read more here.

CPD event for psychologists 

More than 80 psychologists, academics, researchers from CPFT and partners including the University of East Anglia attended the annual professional day on 16 June held at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit. The aims of the day, as Dr Emma Hill, CPFT clinical psychologist, explains in this video, are to bring together the clinical and research communities locally to encourage collaboration. 

Should we share data more or listen more? 

"Would I rather have my doctors and nurses bend over backwards to share my data, or would I have them listen to me for a bit longer? Catch their breath for a bit longer?" writes Dr Mila Petrova in her blog about her experiences working on the CLAHRC-funded “Prepared to Share” study at CPFT. Patient confusion was the biggest challenge which Cambridgeshire and Peterborough GPs and Practice Managers (PMs) identified in the survey on data sharing,.The results have just been published in the International Journal of Medical Informatics is the first survey on data sharing of UK GPs and PMs published in a peer reviewed journal  Read more here 

Promising findings for a new intervention to reduce cognitive risk of depressive relapse

Self-distancing and perspective broadening is a promising clinical technique, a study from CPFT, MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit and University of Exeter has found. Trainees were able to distance and broaden perspectives on negative events. Training reduced distress to upsetting memories and to newly encountered events and also reduced residual depression symptoms in remitted depression. Link here to study.

CPFT praised for recruiting first patient in global study

The Chief Executive of the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) has congratulated CPFT for recruiting the first patient in a worldwide study into schizophrenia.
Led by Professor Jesus Perez, the CAMEO Early Intervention service and the Windsor Research Unit team not only recruited the first global patient for the Patient Preferences in Early Schizophrenia study but also went on to be the highest recruiting site in the UK.  The survey, which ran across a number of sites in the UK, Germany and Italy, was part of a commercial observational study into patients’ views on treatment goals and outcomes in relation to treatment in psychosis. The lead Research Practitioner, Katherine Cummergen, also successfully reached the recruitment target three weeks ahead of the deadline.  Dr Jonathan Sheffield, NIHR CRN CEO, praised Prof Perez, his team and CPFT saying: “First global recruitment is a significant achievement and one which is only delivered through effective and well managed feasibility and study set-up, reflecting the dedication and efforts of yourselves and colleagues within the Trust.” CAMEO is the NHS service in Cambridgeshire that provides specialised assessment, care and support to young people experiencing a first episode of psychosis.

Research critical to help manage dementia now and in the future

Speaking at the start of Dementia Awareness Week, Dr Ben Underwood, consultant psychiatrist at the mental health and community care provider, says people volunteering to take part in clinical trials across the local area are playing a vital role.

CPFT study provides clues to link between heart disease and mental health disorders

Dr Rudolf Cardinal from CPFT and Dr Hannah Clarke and colleagues from the University of Cambridge and have discovered a link between two key areas of the brain and emotional responses. They also show that our brains control our cardiovascular response – changes in our heart patterns and blood pressure – to emotional situations, in a study published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Prestigious new role for CPFT consultant

Consultant in Liaison Psychiatry Dr Annabel Price has been made Vice Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatry's Liaison Faculty.  The College sets standards and promotes excellence in psychiatry and mental healthcare, and represents over 18,000 psychiatrists in the UK and Internationally. Dr Price, who is based at Addenbrooke's Hospital, said: "I’m delighted and honoured to have been elected. This is an exciting time for liaison psychiatry and I look forward to the work ahead  to further develop our specialty for the benefit of patients." As well as her CPFT role, Annabel is a visiting researcher at the University of Cambridge, a senior clinical tutor, and holds a number of key posts locally and regionally.  

CPFT recruiting for largest UK study of mid-life risk factors for dementia

A team led by Professor John O’Brien, Community Division Academic Lead at CPFT, is recruiting healthy volunteers for a study into dementia. The PREVENT study aims to identify biological markers of dementia and changes in risk factors in people many years before they would be expected to develop dementia symptoms. Read more here.

Trust research studies are showcased 

More than 100 people attended a special event on 30 March to highlight the work of the Trust's research teams. Better Diagnosis To Better Care took place at the Cancer Research Institute in Cambridge. Among the speakers were Head of Research and Development Prof Ed Bullmore, Prof John O'Brien (pictured), Allison Bentley and Chris Carling, Dr Louise Lafortune, and Dr Martina Di Simplicio. Prof Bullmore talked about how research conducted at CPFT related directly to frontline care and how he hoped more people would get involved in research over the next year. A link to the event is here.

CPFT academic lead recognised with Lifetime Achievement Award

CPFT community division academic lead Professor John O'Brien has been awarded the Royal College of Psychiatrists 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award in Older People’s Mental Health. The award was presented at the Faculty of Old Age Psychiatry annual meeting in Bristol on 24 March. The award honours the career of an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of older people’s mental health. Read more here.

The page was last updated on 19 October 2017 by aient.


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