ENACT study

ENACT study

Chief investigator: Professor Sue Cotton

It’s important to find better treatments for young people experiencing first episode psychosis; there is some evidence that if we treat it well we can prevent a psychotic disorder from developing.(1)

One potential new treatment is a nutritional supplement – an antioxidant amino acid called N-acetylcysteine (NAC) – which has been found to help people experiencing depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.(2, 3)

Orygen wants to know if NAC can also help people experiencing first episode psychosis.

What does the study involve?

Study participants will be put into two groups, but they won’t know which group they’re in.

Group one will take two grams of NAC per day for 26 weeks; group two will receive a therapeutically inactive treatment (placebo).

Over 12-months participants will attend appointments involving:

  • questionnaires about their everyday life, mental health and wellbeing;
  • thinking tasks assessing things like memory, attention, and problem solving;
  • basic physical health measures (i.e. height, weight, blood pressure);
  • blood tests; and
  • two magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans (optional).

There will be between 7 and 10 appointments depending on whether all aspects of the study are completed, each lasting between 60 and 120 minutes.


Participants will be reimbursed $40 for each of the main assessment time points, for their time and travel.


Study participants must*:

  • be aged between 15 and 25;
  • have commenced treatment for a first episode of psychosis within the last three months; and
  • be able to attend appointments on an outpatient basis every now and then over a one-year period.

*other inclusion and exclusion criteria apply, which will be advised upon contact.


To register your interest, please complete the form below. A study investigator will then contact you to explain the study in detail.


  1. Dodd S, Maes M, Anderson G, Dean OM, Moylan S, Berk M. Putative neuroprotective agents in neuropsychiatric disorders. Prog Neuro-Psychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2013;42:135–45.
  2. Berk M, Copolov D, Dean O, Lu K, Jeavons S, Schapkaitz I, et al. N-acetyl cysteine as a glutathione precursor for schizophrenia—a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Biol Psychiatry. 2008;64:361–8.
  3. Berk M, Copolov DL, Dean O, Lu K, et al. N-acetyl cysteine for depressive symptoms in bipolar disorder--a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. Biol Psychiatry. 2008 Sep 15;64(6):468-75.

SEP 250121. HREC/17/MH/333