New drug halts post-traumatic stress disorder

Last Updated: Dec 08, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

London: Scientists have discovered a way to stop post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) in its tracks by injecting a calming drug into the brain.

Around 30 percent of people who experience a traumatic event will develop PSTD - a severe anxiety disorder that overwhelms a person`s ability to cope.

Symptoms can include vivid flashbacks, emotional numbness and nightmares. While two-thirds recover within a few months, some are dogged by the condition for years, a newspaper reported.

Now researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago have found the molecular cause of the debilitating syndrome.

They found that after experiencing a traumatic event, the brain can become over-stimulated, causing an ongoing, frenzied interaction between two brain proteins long after they should have disengaged.

"It`s like they keep dancing even after the music stops," said lead investigator Jelena Radulovic.

However, they found that injecting the two newly-developed research drugs MPEP and MTEP into the brain`s hippocampus ended `the dance`.

"We were able to stop the development of exaggerated fear with a simple, single drug treatment and found the window of time we have to intervene," Radulovic said.

However, the effect only worked if the drug was administered within five hours of the event.

IANS