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Case Studies

Current examples of research taking place using BioResource

Understanding brain function and addiction

A study team working with the BioResources in Cambridge, Oxford, Leicester and London are hoping to understand the affect on brain function of a drug used to treat addiction.


This study is being led by Professor Edward Bullmore and Professor Pradeep Nathan from the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Pharmaceuticals. 

‘A Pharmacogenetic study of the influence of the Mu opioid receptor polymorphism (OPRM1) on the antagonist efficacy of GSK1521498 and Naltrexone on physiological and behavioural markers of brain function.’

The study team are testing a drug (GSK1521498) they hope will be effective in treating addiction. They are also comparing it to a drug licensed for this purpose (Naltrexone). These drugs work by blocking the effects of opioids. Opioids are chemicals that affect how the body responds to reward from stimuli such as diet and alcohol. The study is also investigating whether the way different individuals respond to these drugs varies with genetic variation.

BioResource volunteers will undergo three treatment periods, each lasting several days, that will also involve MRI scans, blood samples, mood questionnaires and computer tests.

This study involves a large time commitment from BioResource volunteers and without the support from four of the centres this study would not be possible. The research team are extremely grateful to those individuals who have participated to date.

Understanding normal adolescent brain development

U-Change: Understanding & Characterising Healthy Adolescent-to-Adult Neurodevelopmental Growth Effects

Professor Ian Goodyer from the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge and his team are collaborating with the Cambridge and UCL BioResource centres to build a database that will support future neuroscience-driven studies of adolescent and young adult patients with past or current mental health disorders. The main objective is to measure and characterise the development of normal cognitive and emotional processes, as well as maturational changes in brain structure and function in healthy participants aged 14 to 24 years. BioResource volunteers at each centre will participate in questionnaire and computerised tests of cognitive and emotional processes and provide blood and saliva samples. Some volunteers will also be invited to undergo an additional MRI scan.

The support from each BioResource centre is crucial in coordinating and enabling this research and the study team are very grateful to BioResource volunteers and their families for their time and commitment.