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MCL 3268.0: Methods of Treating Pathological Gambling and other Compulsive Disorders

Igor Elman, M.D.

Background and Description

Impulse Control Disorders (ICDs) are a sub-group of mental/psychiatric disorders which are characterized by harmful behaviors acted out in response to seemingly irresistible impulses. The essential feature characterizing ICDs is the failure to resist an impulse, drive, or temptation to perform an act that is known to be harmful to the actor or others. Examples of ICDs include pathological gambling, binge eating disorders, kleptomania, pyromania, tricholtillomania, compulsive shopping/buying/spending, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and substance use/abuse disorders. Cumulatively, ICDs affect a large percentage of the population, and many of them entail significant costs to society: for example, it has been estimated that the annual cost to society of pathological gambling is $54 billion. At present, there are few safe and effective treatments for ICDs. Many of the available treatments are ineffective, expensive, and/or have serious deleterious effects that limit the dose or duration of therapy. Furthermore, many available pharmacological treatments are, themselves, prone to addiction and abuse.

Potential Commercial Uses

The invention is based on the growing understanding of the neuronal pathways that underlie impulse control disorders, and the cross-sensitization that occurs between these pathways. The invention therefore features methods for treating ICDs using centrally-acting compounds (i.e. capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier) that can inhibit a specific neurotransmission pathway. A number of existing pharmaceutical compounds are known to be active against this pathway, and such compounds can be used in the method. The invention therefore provides a potentially safe, effective means of treating pathological gambling and other ICDs for which no viable therapies currently exist.

Publication and Patent Status

McLean Hospital is the owner of a pending U.S. patent application claiming this invention.

Licenses Available

McLean Hospital is offering a worldwide exclusive license to this technology.

For more information, please contact:

Anne Ritter, Licensing Manager
Partners Research Ventures and Licensing
(617) 954-9529