Successful Completion of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) Study

Posted on: April 24th, 2023

Our first funded OCD study has had positive results. We have worked with the University of Hertfordshire looking at Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) – a form of non-invasive brain stimulation – as a pioneering new treatment option for patients with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

The study results show that tDCS reduced OCD symptoms and is both acceptable and safe for use in patients with OCD.

tDCS is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique that involves applying a low electrical current to specific areas of the brain using electrodes placed on the scalp. It has been shown to be effective in treating a range of psychiatric and neurological disorders, including depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.

Data collected over the course of the stimulation programme showed a reduction in symptoms after brain stimulation was applied. While there are many misunderstandings around contemporary uses of brain stimulation treatment, patients responded positively to the intervention, finding it not only safe, but also straightforward with little to no side effects.

A total of 135 individuals were identified as potentially eligible to participate in this OCD study, and 36 consented to initial screening. Twenty patients consented to take part and were randomly allocated to receive the three brain stimulation conditions in one of the six available sequences. Despite the impact of COVID-19, recruitment of participants to the study was shown to be achievable. 

Currently the effects of the treatment on OCD symptoms seems to diminish around four hours after stimulation, so the team say their next step is to undertake further research to determine both the size and duration of the effects – but the initial findings are a very significant positive step forward for the future of OCD management.

Professor Naomi Fineberg, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Hertfordshire and lead researcher on the study, said:

“I’m very pleased our initial research has shown that modern, non-invasive brain stimulation has so much potential as a method of treatment – and that it was well received by patients in the study. We know that the effects of OCD are not only incredibly challenging for individuals living with the condition, but have a widespread impact on our healthcare services, education system and workforces. I hope this leads to larger-scale research that can make a real breakthrough in OCD management and treatment”.

Nick Sireau, Chair & Founder of Orchard OCD, said:

“This is promising news. Even though this is a small feasibility study, it shows that tDCS could potentially be a fast-acting treatment to help OCD patients achieve some form of relief when in the middle of an OCD crisis. A larger study will be needed to confirm this, to determine the optimal treatment parameters and hopefully obtain regulatory approval.”

This is Orchard’s first funded study – we are so pleased to see positive results and stepping towards achieving our mission to develop new treatments for OCD.

If you want to read the results in detail, please go here

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