01.Early testing targets adverse memories
A pill developed by Swiss pharma company Novartis and approved for treatment of multiple sclerosis has shown promise in reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in laboratory mice, according to a recent study published in Nature Neuroscience.
The drug, Gilenya (or fingolimod), targets the memory and learning centres of the brain and inhibits an enzyme called histone deacetylase, though it’s not yet clear how it might reduce PTSD symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, insomnia, anger and hyper-vigilance.
The lead author of the study, Sarah Spiegel of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in the US, said researchers “saw an effect in mice to forget adverse memory”.
PTSD is currently treated with antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs as well as talk therapy. According to the Australian Centre for Post Traumatic Mental Health, up to 10% of Australian will suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives.
Although it’s commonly associated with high-risk professionals such as soldiers, police officers and ambulance and rescue personnel, PTSD can be triggered by any event that causes psychological trauma, and health professionals have warned that children can be particularly vulnerable. New diagnosis guidelines were recently developed in Australia.
A PTSD diagnosis usually requires that symptoms last more than a month and have a significant impact on the sufferer’s social and professional life.