Optimizing response to lithium treatment through personalised and multimodal evaluation of individuals with bipolar I disorder (the R-LiNK study)

Lithium is a gold-standard maintenance treatment for bipolar disorder but not everyone responds, and we lack the ability to predict response. The R-LiNK study (rlink.eu.com) will combine clinical, digital, imaging and biological assessments with routine practice over a two-year period to determine which patients with bipolar I disorder are most eligible for long-term lithium treatment. Crucially, in this study, the decision to start lithium is made by the patient and their usual clinician. Study enrolment begins once that decision has been made, but before treatment is started. The R-LiNK team can provide advice on the indication of lithium, assist with reminders for blood monitoring and support patients with a detailed, regular follow-up throughout their participation.

There are 16 recruiting sites across eight European countries. Dr David Cousins, Hon. Consultant Psychiatrist for RADS Inpatients and Newcastle Magnetic Resonance Centre Director, is leading the UK’s North East site from Newcastle University, working closely with Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Foundation Trustand Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust.

We are aiming to recruit 20 people with bipolar I disorder to the study over the next 12 months. Patients can be in any mood state, and outpatients and inpatients are eligible alike.

Additional eligibility criteria include:

  • Aged between 18 and 70 years old
  • Eligible for blood tests and MRI scans (for example, not have metal implants or fragments in their body)
  • No current thoughts of self-harm and/or behaviours
  • Individuals must not be pregnant, currently breastfeeding, or planning on getting pregnant in the near future

You can view the Participant Information Sheet here (PDF, 1.8MB).

To view a video on the R-LiNK study from our recent CPD event, click here.

    For more information or to refer a patient, please contact:

    Jamie Rea, Research Nurse
    jamie.rea@cntw.nhs.uk / 07970 993 189

    Carly Flowers, Research Assistant
    carly.flowers@ncl.ac.uk/ 07541 207 063