June 20, 2012
Scientists Block Mouse Rage

Scared by violent mice? Live in fear of murine madness? Scientists have found a way to block mouse rage.

Pathological rage can be blocked in mice, researchers have found, suggesting potential new treatments for severe aggression, a widespread trait characterized by sudden violence, explosive outbursts and hostile overreactions to stress.

Blocking the receptor NMDA moderates mouse aggression. A drug that targets NMDA in humans might cut human aggression as well.

In a study appearing today in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers from the University of Southern California and Italy identify a critical neurological factor in aggression: a brain receptor that malfunctions in overly hostile mice. When the researchers shut down the brain receptor, which also exists in humans, the excess aggression completely disappeared.

The findings are a significant breakthrough in developing drug targets for pathological aggression, a component in many common psychological disorders including Alzheimer's disease, autism, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Suppose a gene therapy gets developed that will so reduce NMDA receptor activity that violent prisoners could have their chances of committing violent acts reduced by a few orders of magnitude. Would you favor use of the NMDA-blocking gene therapy as a condition for parole of a violent felon?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2012 June 20 09:26 PM  Brain Violence

Ronald Brak said at June 21, 2012 2:31 AM:

I think a pill or injection or implant is more likely to be practical before gene thereapy. And in that case it doesn't really seem diffrent from what's done already. I understand that taking antabuse can be a condition of parole in the US. But I imagine that prisons might want to get as many inmates on rage blocking drugs as possible to reduce operating costs and let them pack in more prisoners per square meter, so there is room for concern about over medication.

Lou Pagnucco said at June 21, 2012 11:42 AM:

NMDA receptor antagonists are currently being used in anesthetics and pain management.

If formulated as quickly acting gases, maybe they would useful for crowd control, or, if added to public water supplies, to get rebellious populations to acquiesce to unpopular governments. Just kidding.

Cluebat said at June 27, 2012 5:37 AM:

"What does God want? Does God want goodness or the choice of goodness? Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some ways better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?"
-A Clockwork Orange, Prison Chaplain

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