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Researchers have just identified a drug capable of preventing memory problems and increased anxiety in traumatized mice suffering from PTSD-like symptoms.
The finding has huge medical implications for future human PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) treatment and/or prevention.
According to Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators, a receptor called Oprl1 is altered when mice experience PTSD symptoms. The scientists then developed a drug that targets that specific gene, thus preventing the development of the disorder.
Mice were put through a traumatic event – being restrained to wooden boards – and were at a heightened state of fear.
The researchers then gave the mice the Oprl1-targeted drug and found that it had a preventive effect on PTSD and a significant impact on fear memory modulation.
The study, which was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, indicated that humans with genetic variants of the Oprl1 gene are at a higher risk of developing PTSD after a traumatic event, suggesting that the new drug could have a similar effect in humans.
Study leader, HHMI investigator Kerry J. Ressler of the Emory University School of Medicine, said:
“PTSD is a tractable problem that can be prevented and treated if we put our mind to it. Bringing neuroscience and genetic approaches together provides a powerful way to understand this debilitating illness.”
PTSD is a severe anxiety disorder brought on by direct experience of traumatic events – the NHS (National Health Service) in the U.K estimated that about 40% of sufferers developed PTSD after a loved one died suddenly. A sufferer’s life may be completely disrupted, by reliving the horrific event through nightmares as well as flashbacks. Approximately 5% of men and 10% of women suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives.