A new study, published today, is a first step toward a drug to prevent PTSD in people—something soldiers or emergency responders could take just before or after undergoing something traumatic.
Like many preliminary studies, this drug was tested in mice. It found that a new, fairly untested chemical prevents post-traumatic stress disorder-like symptoms in mice, if researchers give the mice the drug soon before or after a traumatic event. For this study, traumatizing mice meant strapping them onto a wooden board so they can't move for two hours. (Although there are robots specially designed to terrorize rodents.)
The study also opened a few new windows into the science of PTSD. It found a gene that makes both mice and people with PTSD react differently to scary sounds. Because the gene controls something in the part of the brain that processes fear, it suggested a mechanism for how PTSD arises. And it suggested that a new, non-addictive class of drugs may help with PTSD. Previously, researchers had found that giving people morphine soon after trauma helps prevent PTSD.
The PTSD-prevention drug is called SR-8993. It sticks to receptors in the brain that, in mice, seems to help them learn to fear. Abnormal fear learning is an important symptom of PTSD. People with PTSD have a hard time distinguishing when they're in safe or dangerous situations, for example.
The scientists, a team of chemists and psychiatrists from all over the U.S., found something similar in their mice. Six days after getting strapped to a board, the mice were bad at learning when they would get a mild shock in the foot and when they were safe from shocks. They seemed to be afraid of getting shocked all the time. Non-traumatized mice, on the other hand, are able to learn when they shouldn't worry.
When scientists gave mice an injection of SR-8993 into the brain, however, the mice didn't learn to fear shocks. The injections worked for both trauma-exposed and normal mice.
The scientists also studied the gene that makes the brain receptor to which SR-8993 sticks. Mice and people both have their own versions of the gene, called Oprl1. Previous studies had found that in people, altered versions of Oprl1 are associated with a higher risk of getting PTSD after trauma. In this study, the traumatized mice made more Oprl1 than their non-traumatized neighbors. So the study showed that Oprl1 might be important to PTSD, fear learning and the amygdala—a small part of the brain where there are a lot of Oprl1 receptors, which don't appear abundantly anywhere else.
This work is just an early look into PTSD prevention. It's important to remember that studies in mice always take a long time to wend their way to human studies and eventually to Food and Drug Administration approval. (That's not necessarily a bad thing. You want this process to be thorough.) Many drugs that work in mice don't actually cut it once scientists try them in humans. This might be especially true for psychiatric drugs tested in mice. PTSD and other mental illnesses are complex and poorly understood. It's difficult to give a lab mouse a human mental illness—or even to know when you've succeeded in doing just that.
The U.S. team published their SR-8993 study today in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
Current drug PTSD treatment for Veterans found ineffective.
Eli Lilly made $70 billion on the Zyprexa franchise.Lilly was fined $1.4 billion for Zyprexa fraud!
The atypical antipsychotics (Zyprexa,Risperdal,Seroquel) are like a 'synthetic' Thorazine,only they cost ten times more than the old fashioned typical antipsychotics.
These newer generation drugs still pack their list of side effects like diabetes for the user.All these drugs work as so called 'major tranquilizers'.This can be a contradiction with PTSD suffers as we are hyper vigilant and feel uncomfortable with a drug that puts you to sleep and makes you sluggish.
That's why drugs like Zyprexa don't work for PTSD survivors like myself.
You are missing the point Dan. The drug they are trying to create will make soldiers unable to feel fear. So survivors are unlikely to suffer from PTSD.
I'm guessing that these soldiers are going to need an artificial boost of adrenaline in combat situations, as their natural fight-or-flight response won't work.
Geez, such a wide spectrum here.. From "Don't shoot that wild animal, dammit!" to "These guys were torturing mice.. FOR SCIENCE! But we won't bat an eyelash at that."
We already know what prevents PTSD and that's avoiding situations that cause PTSD. Sometimes that's not easy to do, but we could stop sending our best and brightest over to countries that hate us. That would probably help a lot more than a brain injection and no mice would have to be tortured.