Dr. Fulvio D'Acquisto’s OCD Research

OCD is not simply being overly tidy, it is a chronic mental health condition which causes the brain to create repetitive worries and fears. Recent studies suggest that people with OCD are 10 times more likely to die by suicide than the general population.

We have recently discovered that patients suffering from anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) have increased levels of a protein called Immuno-moodulin (Imood) in their lymphocytes, a type of immune cell.

Antibodies which block Imood might provide real hopes for a new OCD therapy in the future, offering hope to millions of sufferers around the world.

It has been shown that mice with high levels of this protein display high levels of anxiety and stress, yet when treated with an antibody that neutralised Imood, the animals' anxiety levels reduced.

We are now seeking your support to continue testing human OCD sufferers on a larger scale to further support our findings. The availability of these results will be pivotal to help us with the development of anti-Imood antibodies that can be used in the future to treat OCD. 

There are several studies showing the role of the immune system in regulating emotional wellbeing. We think that Imood might be the first of a series of other immune factors that control mental disorders which can be targeted for new therapies. 

What is the significance of this project?

As with many other new biological systems, we need to establish what are the ‘normal range’ of Imood expressions in healthy volunteers and in diseased OCD conditions. The availability of this data will allow us to address several important questions such as:

1. Is there a difference in the circulating blood levels of Imood of OCD patients compared to healthy controls?

2. Can we use Imood as a blood biomarker of OCD?

3. Do specifically T lymphocytes of OCD patients express higher levels of Imood ?

Next steps

The principal goal of this project is to provide solid clinical data that links OCD with Imood expression. We need to know if Imood levels change according to the state of the disease and if the T lymphocytes specifically show higher levels of this protein.

OCD patients will be recruited by Prof Dell’Osso at the Hospital Sacco in Milan, Italy. Blood samples from recruited patients will be then split between Prof D’Acquisto at the University of Roehampton in London, UK and Prof D’Addario at the University of Teramo, Italy. These samples will be processed to measure Imood levels in blood plasma and in T lymphocytes.

Convincing pharma companies

Once we establish a correlation between Imood levels and disease conditions, we will be in an ideal position to first expand the analysis to other hospitals around the world as well as convince pharma companies to start clinical trials for the testing and validation of antibodies that neutralise Imood .

These new future therapies based on antibodies will significantly change the way we currently treat mental disorders like OCD as they will target the immune system rather than the brain as it is currently done.  

We need your help

The funds you donate will be used for general reagents that will be needed for the analyses. We foresee that about £150 will be needed to cover the expenses of the reagents of one patient or one volunteer and our goal is to test 500 people.

Our team

Fulvio D’Acquisto is a professor of Immunology and Immunopharmacology. He is interested in understanding how the immune system influences emotions and mental health and uses this information to find new treatments for mental disorders.
Fulvio D'Acquisto (0000-0002-4513-1608) - ORCID | Connecting Research and Researchers

Bernardo Dell’Osso is professor of Psychiatry and Co-Chair of the International College of Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Disorders (ICOCS). He has authored more than 200 on topics related to obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, bipolar disorders.
bernardo dell'osso (0000-0001-9370-5365) - ORCID | Connecting Research and Researchers

Claudio D’Addario is professor of Cellular and Molecular Biology. He is an expert in study of the mechanisms that regulate the expression of genes that are involved in mental disorders.
CLAUDIO (0000-0002-0060-3851) - ORCID | Connecting Research and Researchers

Donatella Marazziti is a professor of Psychiatry and member of the World Psychiatric Association - Group for obsessive compulsive disorders. She is an expert in neurobiology and treatment of a wide range of psychiatric disorders. 
Donatella Marazziti (0000-0002-4021-5829) - ORCID | Connecting Research and Researchers

Photo by Jonas Denil on Unsplash
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Fundraising team (3)

Darren James 
Raised £330 from 4 donations
Eastbourne, South East England, United Kingdom
Baljit Kaur 
Fulvio DAcquisto 
Team member
Raised £2,090 from 11 donations
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