Targeting inflammation to treat psychosis

Theme Mental health

Workstream Biological interventions, trial recruitment and safety

Status: This project is ongoing

The Psychosis Immune Mechanism Stratified Medicine (PIMS) trial is a proof-of-concept, randomised, double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial. This means we will be looking at how people respond to the medication they are given during the trial, compared with those who are given a dummy drug (otherwise known as a placebo).

The aim of the study is to assess whether inflammation causes the negative symptoms of psychosis, such as lack of motivation or diminished ability to experience pleasure. We also want to see whether reducing inflammation with an anti-inflammatory drug can ease these symptoms in people with psychosis.

For this trial we will recruit 90 adult participants (between the ages of 18 and 40) from Bristol, Birmingham and Cambridge, who were diagnosed with their first psychotic episode within the previous three years. Of these, 30 will be treated with a single dose of tocilizumab (an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis) and 30 with a dummy drug (normal saline).

Participants will complete questionnaires, blood tests, memory tests, and brain scans, and will be reimbursed for travel expenses. For more information on this study, please email: