Principal Investigator, Chief Pediatrics & Developmental Neuroscience Branch, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Dr. Swedo and her NIMH team were the first to identify a new subtype of pediatric OCD, in which symptoms are triggered by cross-reactive antibodies produced in response to infections with Group A beta-hemolytic streptococci. The subgroup is known by the acronym, PANDAS, which stands for: Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections. This work led to the development of several novel therapies, including use of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) and plasmapheresis to treat acutely ill children, and antibiotics prophylaxis to prevent strep-triggered neuropsychiatric exacerbations. Subsequent work has revealed that the cross-reactive antibodies are unique to the PANDAS subgroup and have biologic activity in the CNS.