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article imageA new drug target for the treatment of post-traumatic stress

By Tim Sandle     Jun 8, 2013 in Health
A compound that targets a particular opioid receptor in the brain appears to reduce the formation of PTSD-like systems in mice subjected to severe trauma. It is hoped this could become a drug target site for people suffering with PTSD.
Scientists researching post-traumatic stress disorder have identified an opioid receptor gene. By examining mice, the researchers have shown that this gene alters when a mouse is subjected to extreme stress. The gene is located in the amygdala, which is the part of the brain is activated by fear and stress.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a severe anxiety disorder with characteristic symptoms that can develop after the direct experience of an extremely traumatic stressor such as the threat of a violent death or serious injury. Symptoms include persistent re-experiencing the original trauma through flashbacks, hallucinations or nightmares, avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, a general numbing of emotional responsiveness, acute and unpredictable episodes of anger.
The finding adds weight to arguments that pain-relieving opioids might inhibit the development of the disorder.
The researchers have also shown that treating mice with a compound that targets this receptor prevented the development of excess anxiety and fear, symptoms similar to those of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The compound has been coded SR-8993. Importantly SR-8993 inhibited the formation of fear memories in the mice.
The implication of the research is that it could lead to a new drug target for the treatment of PTSD in humans.
Commenting on the research, Thomas Bannister of the Scripps Research Institute in Florida who was involved in the study, is quoted in a research brief as saying "While many hurdles remain for SR-8993 or a related compound to become a drug used to prevent PTSD, these results are important first steps in understanding how such treatments may be effective."
The research was led by Kerry Ressler of Emory University in Atlanta. The findings have been published in the journal Science.
More about Ptsd, Stress, post traumatic stress disorder, Drugs, Medicine
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