1.) “ENHANCE - Using N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) as an adjunct to target negative symptoms in clozapine resistant schizophrenia”

A proportion of individuals with schizophrenia do not respond adequately to clozapine, with anything from 40-60% of individuals having remaining symptoms despite having taken clozapine for 6 months or more, this is called clozapine-resistance. There are some additional supplements that could work together with clozapine to improve the effectiveness of the drug whilst not increasing the side effect burden. One such supplement, is N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), it is predicted it will reduce the remaining symptoms of schizophrenia and thus improve patients quality of life
N-Acetyl Cysteine is approved in Australia to treat paracetamol overdose. However, it is not approved to treat clozapine-resistant schizophrenia. Therefore, it is an experimental treatment for clozapine-resistant schizophrenia. This means that it must be tested to see if it is an effective treatment for clozapine-resistant schizophrenia.
We are currently seeking volunteers to participate in this clinical trial looking at the role of NAC in alleviating the negative symptoms of schizophrenia.

In order to be eligible, participants must fulfil the following criteria:
  • 18-65 years old
  • Diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder
  • Treated with Clozapine for ≥ 6 months

The trial runs for 52 weeks and participants are randomly allocated to the NAC treatment or a placebo condition. NAC is given as an adjunct so there is no impact on participants’ current medication regime. During the trial, participants attend the local facilities at the Westmead Hub four times (at baseline, week 8, week 24 and week 52) to complete interviews, questionnaires, cognitive tests and brain scans. Participants will be reimbursed for their time.

If you have any patients who are eligible and might be interested in participating, please have them call Abigail Hansen at 0420 232 789 or at

2.) Using electroencephalography to investigate the suppression of self-generated sensations in schizophrenia (ESP)

Electrophysiological self-suppression (ESS) abnormalities represent the most promising biomarker for schizophrenia in the neuropsychiatric literature. However, given their profound implications, it is surprising that there has been essentially no research to date which has investigated whether ESS abnormalities are specific to certain sensory domains, and what are the clinical and behavioural consequences of ESS abnormalities in patients with schizophrenia.

The current study will aim to address these two key research questions:
  • Are ESS abnormalities specific to auditory sensations in patients with schizophrenia?
  • Do ESS abnormalities map onto specific clinical and behavioural consequences in patients with schizophrenia?

We are currently recruiting participants with a diagnosis of Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder with or without auditory hallucinations. The participation in this study is reimbursed and it involves a clinical interview, an EEG, a computerized cognitive task and some self-report questionnaires.

If you are interested in this study please contact: Ana Rita Barreiros on 8627 3319 or

3.) Using wearable e-health devices to maximise outcomes in young people with severe mental illness – the UNWIRED Mental Health project

A significant problem for people with a severe mental illness is that the help that community mental health services give is reactive to their needs rather than proactively helping them cope with increased arousal or escalating symptoms of mental illness. The unWIRED mental health project uses an ehealth device to measure levels of arousal and activity along with experience sampling to form a composite picture of the mental health of a young person with a severe mental illness.  The project is recruiting young people with a severe mental illness who are clients of the Prevention Early Intervention and Recovery Service along with a community control sample.  Participants are asked to wear an empatica ehealth device and respond to occasional texts.  This helps build up a picture of how they respond to events in their lives. Data is analysed using machine learning techniques to develop a personalized signature for illness in the individual young person.  A randomised controlled trial for this methodology is planned to test the utility of the approach
If you are interested in this study please contact Dr Simon Byrnes on 8890 6688 or

Previous Projects

  • Childhood onset psychosis: risk factors and biological markers
  • GEM study: General and Emotional Cognition in First Onset Psychosis.
  • Does cortical connectivity alter with clinical state in schizophrenia? 
  • The Early Psychosis and Mood Disorders Project
  • Does cognitive remediation improve employment prospects for people with a mental illness returning to work?
  • Mental State reasoning and emotion recognition training in schizophrenia