If you have ever had bad acne, MRSA, and/or gonorrhea, you may be familiar with minocycline. Minocycline is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that kills all sorts of nasty pathogens. It also affects glutamate, the most abundant neurotransmitter in the brain which serves multiple functions. Glutamate is the current target for innovation in psychiatric medication, because the whole dopamine and serotonin business hasn’t panned out as well as the mental health community would like. Minocycline is a convenient drug to study given that it has been in use for a long time and is relatively safe to use in both adults and children.
Apparently, it helps some people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) be less obsessive and compulsive. A Google search will produce multiple articles on the topic. For something that isn’t super jargony, check out the third article in the series titled Brain Hacking in the Washington Post.
People with OCD are stereotyped as orderly, perfectionist, and rigid. The OCD stereotype is inaccurate. The disorder is not characterized by personality traits, though people with OCD can struggle with them (perfectionism particularly). When I read about a medication for Leprosy that also treats OCD, I do wonder if the personalities of these folks changes somewhat – to what extent does personality reinforce OCD behaviors, and vice versa.
Frankly, I hope researchers find a magic pill for some of these things. As much as I love my job, I’d probably be content as a librarian or something. In the meantime…