UT neuroscientist working on method to remove fear memories and help PTSD patients

UT neuroscientist working on method to remove fear memories and help PTSD patients

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Mental Illness impacts 1 out of every 5 people in the United States. Researchers at the University of Toledo are working on a treatment that could help folks with PTSD, depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

U.T. neuroscientist Dr. Jianyang Du said "fear memories" stored in our brains, can cause people a lot of pain.

"We don't have a good drug to help people with psychiatric diseases such as the PTSD, right? The soldiers have traumatic memory and nightmares and many of them commit suicide," said Dr. Du.

What if those fear memories could simply be erased? It's something Dr. Du and his team are working on.

Right now, the science is being tested in mice, training them to establish fear memories, by way of electric shock, and then erasing those memories through carbon dioxide, which makes the memory unstable so it can then be removed.

"When the mouse inhales the CO2, it helps a lot for them to remove the bad memory. It works very great," said Dr. Du.

Dr. Du said right now, drugs can't target specific memories like his method can. Instead, they remove the good memories with the bad. They also come with nasty side effects.

He says a five-year, $1.75 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health can help push the research further, in hopes of one day, using it on humans.

"We are discussing how we can use these measures for PTSD patients. It's in our plan," said Dr. Du.

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