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Catching up with METSY: How the link between psychosis and obesity has paved the way towards new treatment options

This month we catch up with METSY, featured in our October 2018 special section that focused on mental health. METSY unveiled the links between psychotic disorders and metabolic co-morbidities and thus opened the door for new therapeutic options tackling psychosis whilst preventing metabolic complications.


The key outcome for METSY (Neuroimaging platform for characterisation of metabolic co-morbidities in psychotic disorders) was that weight gain is indeed associated with first episode psychosis (FEP) and that the potential medical impact lies in identifying patients with high risk of rapid weight gain, and guiding their treatment to prevent metabolic comorbidities. Advancing these findings was an absolute priority. “And luckily, this is happening,” comments coordinator Matej Oresic. “There are now multiple studies ongoing derived directly from the METSY results, also with researchers who had not been originally involved with METSY itself.”

Pushing the METSY decision support tool towards clinical introduction

We found out that METSY had developed a decision support tool to help provide better and more targeted treatment to at-risk patients. “To achieve this, further pilots are needed to test the tool in-clinic,” admits Oresic. “However, the METSY participant involved in the tool development has done that in one disease area already, for Alzheimer’s disease, and a spin-off company has been established.” Oresic hopes that further steps will be taken to achieve something similar with the decision support system for psychosis, however it’s still a work in progress.

Further collaboration through the IMI

Another important METSY finding was a lipid signature that suggests that psychotic patients who are most at risk of developing metabolic complications have increased markers of liver fat already prior to such complications. “Related to these findings, we are currently involved with the Innovative Medicines Initiative’s (IMI) LITMUS project,” explains Oresic. “This project is developing novel molecular diagnostic tools to diagnose and monitor non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Although it’s in its early stages we still aim to evaluate the diagnostic tools in the psychiatric population.” Reflecting on the impact of EU funding, Oresic comments: “With METSY, we were among the first to highlight the importance in studying metabolic co-morbidities in psychoses, which is receiving increased interest in psychiatry.” Looking ahead, Oresic hopes that the METSY findings and tools will allow him and his team to pursue further research aiming to understand the metabolic component in psychosis.