OCD Clinical Trial

Obsessive-compulsive disorder affects almost 1 in 20 people and is characterised by distressing, obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours that can be debilitating. QIMR Berghofer researchers are trialling a new treatment for the disorder and are calling for eligible volunteers to take part.

The quality of life reported by people living with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is one of the lowest among all disorders and sadly many patients continue to experience severe symptoms even with current treatments available.

QIMR Berghofer researchers are trialling a new brain stimulation treatment for the disorder and are calling for south-east Queenslanders who have been diagnosed with OCD to join the clinical trial.

The head of QIMR Berghofer’s Clinical Brain Networks team, Dr Luca Cocchi, said researchers are trialling Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) to target parts of the brain that support OCD symptoms.

‘TMS is a non-invasive procedure that delivers repetitive magnetic pulses to the brain to stimulate nerve cells and adjust brain activity. It has been used successfully to treat depression but the effectiveness of targeted stimulation for OCD symptoms remains to be trialled,’ Dr Cocchi said.

Study participants first undergo a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan, which the researchers use to then construct a computerised 3D brain model to help guide the stimulation procedure.

Participants then attend 30-minute clinics at QIMR Berghofer in Brisbane over a 20-day period (Monday to Friday). The treatment targets the areas of the brain identified in the MRI.

‘We hope this new way of treating symptoms of OCD could complement the existing treatments and help individuals lead healthier and happier lives,’ Dr Cocchi said.

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