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MS Drug Erases Painful Memories In Mice, Study Finds

Update Date: May 27, 2014 10:11 AM EDT

Giving fingolimod - drug normally used to treat Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in people - to mice, enabled them to forget memories they held of a recent painful event, according to a new study. 

The idea of erasing bad memories is not new and movies have even popularized the idea. Scientists are more interested in whether a drug that could erase bad memories might help people with PTSD and other psychological ailments related to traumatic experiences. The press release added that in this new effort researchers have found that administering a drug used for one purpose, appears to allow for erasing certain types of memories in mice.

A prior research had found that the drug fingolimod also can inhibit the production of the enzyme histone deacetylase-a gene expression regulator. The drug is also known to be able to cross the blood-brain barrier which suggested a possible unknown impact on the brain. 

Researchers suspected that the impact might be also related to memory, so they trained several mice to fear a cage - once inside an electric charge was applied to its floor. Mice trained in such a way come to exhibit clear signs of fear when put in the same cage again, the release added.

Subsequently, researchers administered fingolimod to mice that were trained to fear the cage, and then put them through the untraining  program -  putting them in the cage over and over again without a charge, until they "forget" about the earlier trauma. 

Researchers observed that the mice given the drug tended to forget their fear of the cage faster than those who were not administered with the drug. 

It's not known if the drug would cause the same impact in humans, but future research will be conducted to learn more about how the drug causes memory loss and to discern if it might be useful in the treatment of PTSD, the press release added.

Researchers described their experiment in a paper published in the journal Nature Neuroscience. 

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