2020 Breakthrough Award

A precision medicine approach to OCD treatment: Targeting neuroinflammation

Jeffrey Miller, MD

Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, Inc./Columbia University (New York, NY)

Award Amount: $500,000

Much prior research has found evidence of brain inflammation’s role in the development of OCD. As a result, anti-inflammatory medications have been suggested as a potential avenue for treating symptoms in individuals with OCD.

Building off this early evidence, Dr. Miller and his team will test a new OCD treatment strategy by measuring and targeting inflammation in the brain. The team will precisely measure brain inflammation in a group of 21 people with OCD using PET imaging and blood sampling, and then provide them with treatment using the anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib (brand name “Celebrex”). Their symptoms will be tracked, and their levels of brain inflammation will be measured after treatment using the same brain imaging and blood sampling techniques as those employed before treatment. In addition, they are comparing measures of inflammation in the body and the brain between patients with OCD and healthy volunteers.  Dr. Miller’s work will substantially add to our knowledge about the role that inflammation may play for some people with OCD, and whether anti-inflammatory medication could be an effective treatment. Recruitment is ongoing in this study.