Several lines of evidence suggest that the neurotransmitter glutamate is out of balance in at least some cases of OCD. Medications that modulate glutamate in the brain may therefore represent a new avenue to treat OCD symptoms, and may be of use in patients whose symptoms do not respond well to established methods of treatment. Some years ago, the Yale OCD Research Clinic began investigating the glutamate-modulating drug riluzole (Rilutek®), which is FDA-approved for the treatment of the neurological disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In early studies, without a control group, we found this medication to be helpful to a number of patients with severe, treatment-refractory OCD. In a follow-up study with another group of patients – still without a control group – we found that this benefit can persist for over a year after initial treatment. Another group of investigators, working at the National Institute of Health, has recently published preliminary evidence that riluzole may be of benefit in pediatric OCD.
If this is to be established as a viable treatment for refractory OCD, benefit to patients must be shown in a placebo-controlled study. We have recently begun such a study, and are seeking patients to participate in it. With this placebo-controlled study, we hope to confirm our promising but preliminary early results and better establish whether or not riluzole has a role in the treatment of OCD after first-line medication has been tried.
We are currently recruiting people who have been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder to participate. This study is a double blind, placebo-controlled 14-week trial of riluzole, added to participant’s current medication.
Diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder