NSPN is a new venture from the University of Cambridge and University College London, which launched in November 2012. NSPN is researching how the adolescent mind and brain develops into early adulthood. To do this, several exciting new studies looking at different areas of brain development will be run at various points over the next five years
For a number of years adolescent depression has been the main research focus for Professor Ian Goodyer and his team. ROOTS is an ambitious project, funded by the Wellcome Trust, which aims to expand and build on previous work in a large cohort of teenagers (1200-1400) recruited through Cambridgeshire schools. The project will not restrict itself to the study of depression, but will encompass many aspects of teenage mental health throughout the demanding adolescent period. The aim is to determine the relative contributions that specific genetic, physiological, psychological and social variables make to the overall risk for psychopathology during adolescence. Teenagers are recruited into the study at age 14 and will be followed through the adolescent period until they reach 17-18. A unique dimension to this project is the inclusion of measures of activity and nutrition over the adolescent period.
All people produce a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol should increase when people get stressed – this increase is greater in people vulnerable to depression. The Roots REACT study will test which of two stress tests is a better potential biomarker: a single deep breath of carbon 35% carbon dioxide and the Trier Social Stress Test. This study will test whether cortisol reactivity is related to other known risk factors for depression; and whether it is higher in people who used to be depressed than in people who have never been depressed. The study will recruit 228 participants aged 17-19 years who are already taking part in one of our long-term studies (ROOTS). Saliva will be collected at rest on two days for testing for cortisol levels. Participants will come to our lab on two occasions, for the two stress tests. Saliva will be collected and cognitive function will be tested before and after stress tests.
The IMPACT launched in 2010 and to compare three treatments for depression which are known to work and are widely used. We want to know which treatment works best for different kinds of people, so that in the future people with depression get the treatment that is most likely to help them. Volunteers were recruited from 18 Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) clinics across East Anglia, North London and the North West. Volunteers received one of three different treatments for depression, and met regularly with researchers to see how they were responding.
IMPACT-GH (IMPACT Genes and Hormones)
Several medication and talking treatments are effective for adolescent depression. There is little research guiding us as to which treatment is most effective for specific individuals. Levels of the hormone cortisol and the presence of certain genes affect the chances of becoming depressed and recovering. Capitalising on the existing IMPACT randomised controlled trial which compares specific talking therapies compared to treatment as usual for depressed adolescents, IMPACT-GH will measure levels of the hormone cortisol at the start of treatment and measure genotype for the serotonin transporter promoter polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) and a single nucleotide polymorphism (rs7997012) of the gene coding the 5-HT2A receptor. This project will test whether these biological measures predict which specific psychological treatment is more effective for individual patients.
Depression in adolescents is a serious mental illness with over half of those diagnosed remaining unwell and impaired into young adulthood. Finding ways to improve treatment of early episodes and thus decrease the risk of depression recurring in adolescence and adult life would be a major public health advantage. MR-IMPACT is a study funded by the UK Medical Research Council supplemental to the IMPACT clinical trial. The IMPACT clinical trial is designed to compare psychological treatments (talking therapies) that improve treatment response, reduce residual symptoms and decrease the risk of recurrence in adolescent major depressive disorder. MR-IMPACT will work with the same patients to identify areas of the brain with magnetic resonance imaging to understand the biology of depression and predict the effectiveness of these psychological treatments.
The MR-IMPACT study is looking to recruit 120 adolescent (aged 11-17 years) patients from those who have already agreed to take part in the IMPACT clinical trial. Participation will involve an MRI assessment at our research facility on the Addenbrookes’ Hospital site in Cambridge. Some patients will also be asked to come again for another MRI assessment after their treatment is completed. MR-IMPACT will also be looking for young people in the same age-range, without depression as a comparison. The study began in the summer of 2010 and will continue into 2014.
Please click here for the IMPACT Analysis Plan.
Please click here for the Brief Psychosocial Intervention (BPI) for Adolescents with Moderate or Severe Depression: a Treatment Manual.
Please click here for the Short-Term Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (STPP) for Adolescents with Moderate or Severe Depression: a Treatment Manual.
Please click here for the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Depression in Young People Manual for Therapists.
START is a major research study spread across 9 sites in the UK investigating a form of intervention for young people and their families who are experiencing difficulties at home, at school and sometimes with the law. This way of helping young people and their families is new to the UK. The study is one the largest of its kind, representing a collaboration between University College London, the University of Cambridge and the University of Leeds, funded by the Department of Health and the Department of Education.