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Mouse model mimics OCD behavior


Scientists have been unable to test experimental treatments for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in part because they lacked an animal model which mimicked the disease. Not any more. “Our (mouse) 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,” said Stephanie Dulawa, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Chicago Medical Center and senior author of a new study which may bring about better first line treatments for OCD.

Researchers have isolated a single neurotransmitter receptor in a specific brain region responsible for OCD-like symptoms. They noticed that a drug that activates the 1b class of receptors fo r the neurotransmitter serotonin was known to have the unintended effect of bringing about OCD as a side effect.

When the drug was given to mice, they showed repetitive patterns of behavior. They also appeared unable to filter out intrusive thoughts to carry on normal behavior. Then they tested the SRIs on the mice to see if their response time was similar to humans. It is.

“We have time course that nicely parallels or mimics the human therapeutic response,” Shanahan said. “In order to study how these drugs are working and the pathophysiology of the disorder, we need a model where this delayed onset exists. So we are really excited about that.”
Over two million people suffer from OCD in varying degrees. Neurotransmitter serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) have had limited success treating the disease only working for 40% of the people who take them. “OCD is very mysterious and very prevalent,” Shanahan said. “The development of OCD-specific treatments will be an extremely important step toward helping these people and preventing the disorder’s cost to society.”

Source: National Institute of Mental Health, MedicalNewsToday

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