A new model of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that mirrors both symptoms of the disease and the timing of its treatment in humans has been created by University of Chicago researchers, according to a new study.
Using the model, researchers isolated a single neurotransmitter receptor in a specific brain region responsible for their model's OCD-like symptoms, offering new insight into the cause of the disorder. Further research with the model may point the way to new treatments for both OCD and autism, said Nancy Shanahan, PhD, lead author of the paper in Biological Psychiatry.
"Treatment for these people is greatly needed, and there really are very few highly valid animal models of the disorder," said Shanahan, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago. "Having one that seems to mimic the disorder so well, especially in terms of the time course of treatments that work in humans, is potentially very useful for researching novel therapeutics."
Stephanie Dulawa, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Chicago Medical Center and senior author of the study, said, "Our model can make accurate predictions about what you see in OCD, and that gives us confidence that the underlying neurobiology is likely to be similar between the model and the actual disorder."
About 2.2 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with OCD, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. OCD patients struggle with repetitive rituals (such as hand-washing, counting and cleaning) and unwanted thoughts that can cause severe anxiety.
Psychiatrists have found some success treating patients with a class of drugs called serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) initially developed for depression. However, these drugs fail to reduce symptoms in as many as 60 percent of OCD patients and require four to eight weeks of treatment for therapeutic effect
|Contact: Robert Mitcum|
University of Chicago Medical Center