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A New Treatment for OCD Found In Antibodies

Mar 14, 2023 | OCD

In a new study from the Queen Mary University of London and the University of Roehampton, London, scientists suggest that a new line of drugs aimed at targeting the immune system might help treat or even cure conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Their new treatment offers hope for a game-changing intervention that could significantly ease mental disorders with minimal side effects.

Professor Fulvio D’Acquisto, who led the research, said, “There is mounting evidence that the immune system plays an important role in mental disorders. And in fact, people with auto-immune diseases are known to have higher than average rates of mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and OCD. Our findings overturn a lot of the conventional thinking about mental health disorders being solely caused by the central nervous system.”

D’Acquisto was researching the role that Annexin-A1 protein played in autoimmune disorders. He created transgenic mice that overexpressed the protein in cells related to this type of disease. But D’Acquisto and his team found that the mice’s anxiety levels were unexpectedly much higher than normal. It took a lot of time and effort to pinpoint this one particular protein that accounted for the increased anxiety. Yet, when the researchers did, they named it Immuno-moodulin or Imood. One of the antibody treatment’s significant benefits was that it decreased anxiety levels in these lab mice.

Previously, the researchers found that people with OCD were more likely to show abnormalities in certain parts of their brains. In this study, the researchers validated these findings by examining the brains of 23 patients with OCD and 20 people without OCD. They found Imood to be much higher in those with OCD than without it, which means it is critical for developing and perpetuating the disease.

D’Acquisto and Dr. Dianne Cooper are now working on the development of antibodies against Imood. They hope to use these as a treatment for anyone who suffers from mental disorders. However, it could be years before the treatment is allowed for medical trials.

These findings offer hope for people who have OCD, ADHD, and other illnesses. The work not only gives us much greater insight into how to treat these often debilitating diseases but also highlights the key role of brain chemistry in causing them. Most people still feel anxiety, OCD, and other similar conditions are a result of the individual’s failures in willpower. This is great news for people with mental illnesses as it proves they are a product of brain chemistry and were not the result of any fault on the patients’ behalf.

From what we know so far, increased exposure in people with OCD is one of the biggest ways to lower the stigma toward the problem.

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