Clinical trial for OCD treatment underway in South Florida

Phase 2 study looking at safety, efficacy of potential treatment

By Kathleen Corso - Special Projects Producer, Kristi Krueger - Anchor/Health Reporter

SUNRISE, Fla. - Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is one of the top 20 causes of illness-related disability worldwide for people between 15 and 44 years old, according to the World Health Organization.  

Sunrise college student Bisma Suleman has suffered from the condition for years.

"I'd wash my hands a lot. I'd be cleaning all the time until 5 a.m. and losing sleep," she said. "Basically if I tried to do homework or go to work I'd wind up doing some kind of compulsion or I wouldn't do the homework. I'd just do the compulsion."

It all started at the age of 9.

"It's like a game of whack-a-mole because when one compulsion stops another one comes," Suleman said. "It was becoming increasingly apparent that something was wrong that something was preventing me from doing my daily functions and it was really taking a toll because I was becoming pretty depressed."

While there are drug therapies to treat OCD, many people do not respond to the treatment. Dr. Jose Gamez, a psychiatrist with Galiz Research in Hialeah, Florida, is an investigator for a phase-two study into a new drug compound called BHV-4157, which aims to regulate abnormalities of glutamate, a naturally occurring neurotransmitter in the brain.

"We think the activity of the human brain has to do with the health and the communication between the neurons," Gamez said.

During phase two of the double-blind study, researchers are looking at the safety and efficacy of the investigational drug.

"Now we're looking at whole new ways of exploring this illness in a way that before we didn't have that option," Gamez said.

While Suleman is not part of the clinical trial she hopes the results provide new treatment options for OCD.

"I actually think about that sometimes; about the possibility of never having compulsions again and sometimes it just feels like a dream that hasn't happened yet and maybe never will. I try to stay positive though," she said.

For more information on the clinical trial go to OCDtrial.org or call 855-945-0867. On Friday Rogers Behavioral Health is holding a free OCD community awareness event from 4-6:30 p.m. Head to the event page to register

Copyright 2019 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.