Lecture – Novel Interventions for OCD

Available with English captions.

Presented by Carolyn Rodriguez, MD, PhD, Stanford University School of Medicine – Women in Medicine and Science Month lecture

Standard first-line treatments for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) may not provide sufficient relief of OCD symptoms for all those seeking care. Given the limited success offered by current treatments, there is an urgent need for alternative approaches to help those with the disorder.

In this lecture, Rodriguez discusses current, established approaches for OCD, then reviews recent research and potential treatment advances. She examines studies into experimental medications, neuromodulation, and combining drug and psychological treatments.

Watch now to learn more about:

  • The recommended standard of care treatment algorithm for OCD
  • Experimental medication and neuromodulation strategies currently being explored
  • Ketamine as a potential treatment for OCD

Drawing on her background as a neuroscientist and psychiatrist, Rodriguez looks at emerging mechanistic and basic research. This work, she reports, suggests that changes in fronto-striatal circuits may be important for ketamine’s therapeutic effects in OCD. Ketamine has shown promise for treating individuals with depression.

Rodriguez describes her own work at Stanford’s Translational Therapeutics Lab and related studies into in the underlying mechanisms that cause OCD. This research seeks to understand the levels in the brain where obsessions and compulsions are encoded. This knowledge, she says, could give us a better understanding of the neurobiology of OCD. It could also provide insights into the best ways to intervene with treatments.

During the talk, Rodriguez focuses on studies into the ways different drugs impact glutamate, the main chemical messenger that brain cells use to communicate with each other. Many of these studies have looked at how ketamine affects glutamate in animal models and in humans.

This work, along with investigations into compounds related to ketamine, could lead to new and more effective treatments for OCD, she states.

In addition to discussions of ketamine research, Rodriguez explores investigations into rapid treatments for the condition. These studies, she says, could lead to shorter session times, reduced treatment durations, and more robust outcomes.

Also, Rodriguez describes the impact of coexisting conditions, like depression, on those with OCD. She also discusses the promise of personalized approaches to help those with the condition.