Researchers create treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Researchers create treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

n the study, researchers used a drug to bind to the receptor in mice, decreasing the expression of fear associated with PTSD.

A study published in Science Translational Medicine identifies a gene and receptor within the amygdala, where fear is controlled in the brain, which may be responsible for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in humans.  In the study, researchers used a drug to bind to the receptor in mice, decreasing the expression of fear associated with PTSD.

The researchers describe the human link to PTSD.  The gene Oprl1 is found in the amygdala.  A single-nucleotide polymorphism, a type of mutation of this gene, is associated with childhood trauma and symptoms of PTSD.  The mutation has also been correlated with alterations in amygdala functioning.  By applying the drug to the receptor that binds with this gene in the brain, researchers have identified a potential method for reducing the expression of PTSD and simultaneously confirmed that this gene and corresponding receptor could be the source of PTSD in humans.

According to U.S. News and World Report, the same receptor is activated when patients are given morphine or other opioid drugs.  This corresponds to observations that, after a traumatic event, administration of these types of drugs seemed to ease anxiety of patients with PTSD.  The drug researchers used here did not show any side effects in the mice.  In contrast, use of opioid drugs result in fears of adverse results, particularly addiction.

The Mayo Clinic describes PTSD as a mental health condition in which the individual suffers from severe anxiety, flashbacks, and nightmares.  These symptoms are associated with an event associated with a high level of fear or terror, which triggered the onset of the condition.  PTSD is commonly associated with the military due to combat veterans showing a higher prevalence of the condition.  However, traumatic events that can trigger PTSD range from military combat to natural disasters to violent assaults.

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, approximately 3.5 percent of the U.S. adult population suffers from PTSD during a given 12-month period.  Of these, about 36 percent are severe cases.  Approximately half of the individuals that suffer from PTSD are receiving medical treatment and only 42 percent are receiving treatment that reaches a minimum level of adequacy.

The Los Angeles Times points out that, of U.S. troops returning back from Afghanistan and Iraq, there is a much higher prevalence of PTSD.  Approximately one-fifth of these veterans suffer from this condition.  Current research indicates that a solution may be on the horizon for the troops and all the others that are suffering from PTSD.

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