CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--Researchers from MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory have uncovered a molecular mechanism that governs the formation of fears stemming from traumatic events. The 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.
A treatment for post traumatic stress disorder and other learned fears would help a lot of people.
Kinase enzymes attach phosphate groups onto proteins and this gets used in cells to regulate many aspects of cellular activity. Inhibition of a kinase called Cdk5 undoes a learned fear response.
Li-Huei Tsai, Picower Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and colleagues show that inhibiting a kinase (kinases are enzymes that change proteins) called Cdk5 facilitates the extinction of fear learned in a particular context. Conversely, the learned fear persisted when the kinase's activity was increased in the hippocampus, the brain's center for storing memories.
Cdk5, paired with the protein p35, helps new brain cells, or neurons, form and migrate to their correct positions during early brain development. In the current work, 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. 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," Tsai said.
I wonder if the Cdk5 inhibitor just extinguishes the fear response to the original memory or does it wipe out the original memory?
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2007 July 17 10:33 PM Brain Emotion Alteration|