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FRIMEDBIO-Fri prosj.st. med.,helse,biol

Change in clinically significant behavior during pharmacological augmented treatment of anxiety disorders

Tildelt: kr 3,6 mill.

There has been enormous progress in the treatment of anxiety disorders, yet about 40% patients with chronic posttraumatic stress disorder do not recover after receiving daily medication or psychotherapy. PTSD is characterized by hyperarousal, coupled with emotional avoidance. Non-reinforced exposure to emotional experiences or memories is a central therapeutic intervention in the treatment of PTSD and is suggested to decrease avoidance and fear responses through extinction and habituation. It has been ass erted that the compound MDMA can decrease avoidance behavior and increase emotional processing when taken within a psychotherapy session. Translational research on both rodents and humans make this assumption biologically plausible. The specific aim of th is project is to provide the first empirically measurements of the acute clinical behavioral effects of MDMA in the context of psychotherapy. Our data consist of video/audio recordings of sessions from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinic al trial. Trained observers will use quantitative systems to measure avoidance behavior and level of emotional expression before, during and after two pharmacologically augmented psychotherapy sessions. The resulting data will be compared with assessments of symptom severity before, during and at follow-up. This international cooperation project capitalizes on competence on MDMA at McLean Hospital, Harvard Univ. and on observational psychotherapy research at NTNU. A long-term goal of this study is to deve lop competence in Norway to participate on large multi-site clinical trials. MDMA is not patented and has no commercial interest, therefore industry independent research is welcome. If this compound can mediate therapy by facilitating bearable exposure an d reprocessing of traumatic events, it is likely to lead to an novel, economically attractive treatment for patients suffering from severe PTSD and other anxiety disorders.


FRIMEDBIO-Fri prosj.st. med.,helse,biol