Monday, July 16, 2007

MIT finds cure for fear

From pressesc:

Submitted by Vidura Panditaratne on Sun, 2007-07-15 19:37. | |

MIT biochemists have identified a molecular mechanism behind fear, and successfully cured it in mice, according to an article in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Researchers from MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory hope that their work could lead to the first drug to treat the millions of adults who suffer each year from persistent, debilitating fears - including hundreds of soldiers returning from conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Inhibiting a kinase, an enzyme that change proteins, called Cdk5 facilitates the extinction of fear learned in a particular context, Li-Huei Tsai, Picower Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and colleagues showed.

Conversely, the learned fear persisted when the kinase's activity was increased in the hippocampus, the brain's center for storing memories, the scientists found.

Cdk5, paired with the protein p35, helps new brain cells, or neurons, form and migrate to their correct positions during early brain development, and the MIT researchers looked at how Cdk5 affects the ability to form and eliminate fear-related memories.

"Remarkably, inhibiting Cdk5 facilitated extinction of learned fear in mice," Tsai said. "This data points to a promising therapeutic avenue to treat emotional disorders and raises hope for patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or phobia."

Read more on the link.

1 comment:

  1. This is really scary but very cool too. Scary in the sense that we may be able to chemically change our emotions to whatever we want (or none at all!). It also raises questions about what is 'learned' and what is 'hard-wired' into our genetic make-up. What is the limit of what we be able to take control of?


To add a link to text:
<a href="URL">Text</a>