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Owing to the uncertainties around Covid-19, we decided not to open a new call for proposal this year.

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2019 – Orchard call for proposals winner: psilocybin for the treatment of OCD

We are pleased to announce that the winner of the Orchard call for proposals is a project researching the use of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, as a potential treatment for OCD.

Researchers: Professor David J Nutt and Professor Naomi Fineberg
Institutions: Imperial College and University of Hertfordshire, UK

Studies have shown that psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, can be used to treat depression and even OCD. The potential for an enduring effect of psilocybin, independent of its psychedelic effect, may reflect its central action on serotonin receptors in the brain.

We will carry out a single-dose study to prove this, using a low dose of psilocybin that is unlikely to induce a psychedelic effect but could nevertheless reduce OCD symptoms. This study will be a feasibility study to inform the design of a larger, more definitive study on the role of psilocybin in OCD.

Watch a short video about this here.

We are now organising a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for this project.

The two runner-up projects were:

A controlled study comparing probiotic treatment versus placebo in adult obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Researchers : Michael Van Ameringen MD FRCPC ; Beth Patterson MSc, Heather Dwyer MSc PhD (c), Jasmine Turna PhD, Brent Urbanski, Michael Surette, PhD
Institution: McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

There is a growing body of evidence indicating a significant relationship between the effect of gut bacteria on the brain and on human behaviour. Dysregulation of these gut bacteria may be involved in chronic mental illness including OCD. This points to a promising direction whereby intestinal bacteria could be targeted for their therapeutic potential.

Probiotics are commonly found as additives in dairy products such as yogurt but are also widely available in the form of supplements. They are considered to be safe, with no serious side effects and are now commonly used to treat chronic bowel conditions. The aim of this study is to evaluate whether 12 weeks of probiotic treatment can improve clinical symptoms in adults with OCD.

Watch a short video about this here.

Testing whether estradiol, a female sex hormone, could improve therapy outcomes for women with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Researchers: Dr Hannah Levy, Dr David Tolin, Dr Andrew Winokur, and Dr Hugh Taylor
Institution: Anxiety Disorders Center/Center for CBT, Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital, Connecticut, USA and Yale University School of Medicine, Connecticut, USA

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) incorporating exposure and response prevention is considered a first-line treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder, yet only 43% of patients respond to this treatment and even fewer remit.

An exciting line of research indicates that estradiol, a female sex hormone that regulates menstrual cycles and fluctuates throughout the female reproductive cycle, may improve fear reduction during exposure therapy. We will study whether estradiol administration could improve outcomes in exposure and response prevention for OCD, particularly for women who are low in endogenous estradiol.

Watch a short video about this here.

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