Chief Investigator: Professor James Scott

Funding: Metro North Foundation


Schizophrenia is a persistent psychotic disorder often accompanied by severe disability and premature mortality. New pharmacological treatments are urgently needed. Sodium benzoate, a common food preservative holds potential to be an effective, accessible treatment for schizophrenia.

Uncertainty remains regarding the optimal sodium benzoate dose for the treatment of people with schizophrenia. Likewise, uncertainty also exists regarding the mechanism of action through which sodium benzoate acts in psychotic illnesses. Thus, we intend to examine the efficacy of sodium benzoate at three dose levels with the aim to clarify efficacy and as well as to further examine the mechanism of action of sodium benzoate safety at the three doses.

Fifty-two (52) participants will be recruited through the mental health services at Metro North and West Moreton Hospital and Health Service in Queensland, Australia.

The primary objective is to determine the minimal dose (1000mg, 2000mg or 4000mg daily) required of adjunctive sodium benzoate over 6 weeks to maximise reduction in total PANSS scores compared to placebo.

A tertiary (exploratory) objective is to determine the mechanism of action by examining the change in biochemical markers relative to baseline and correlate these with clinical outcomes. These biochemical markers consist of plasma amino acids (D-alanine, L-alanine, D-serine, glycine and glutamate), plasma concentration of sodium benzoate and plasma catalase.

This research is headed by Professor James Scott and funded through Metro North Foundation. The Clinical Support Unit at QCMHR headed by Andrea Baker will coordinate the clinical trial.

This study is ongoing and looking for volunteers!   If you would like to participate in this study, please email Andrea Baker on team!

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