2023 Innovator Award

Investigating the brain endocannabinoid system in obsessive-compulsive disorder

Stefan Kloiber, MD & Jamie Feusner, MD

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (Toronto, ON, Canada)

Award Amount: $299,831

Initial research suggests that the brain’s endocannabinoid system is involved in the regulation of OCD symptoms and anxiety. Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) is an enzyme that regulates levels of an endocannabinoid called anandamide. If an alteration of this enzyme could be linked to OCD, this could improve our understanding of the mechanisms in the brain contributing to OCD and inform development of novel therapies.

This neuroimaging study by Dr. Kloiber, Dr. Feusner, and their team aims to determine, for the first time in humans, whether levels of FAAH are higher in the brains and certain brain regions of individuals suffering from OCD compared to healthy controls. The study will also investigate blood levels of endocannabinoids and activity of brain regions known to be involved in OCD. Results of this study will help us better understand the biological processes involved in OCD and may guide development of more targeted, future treatments.