Scientists now have a drug that can prevent post-traumatic stress disorder commonly referred to as PTSD.
This breakthrough is particularly helpful to people living in the United States because according to statistics Americans suffer from PTSD more than most other nations do. For example, about 8 million adults in the country have it, representing about 3.5% of the entire adult population in the US. Meanwhile only about O.5-1% of the adults in the world suffer from it.
The finding by researchers based in Chicago is especially important for people who have survived an armed conflict. PTSD, which is common in soldiers returning from war, increases the likelihood of a person committing suicide. Currently, the only way of preventing the emergence of this medical condition in a person is psychological debriefing. An additional way of preventing it may mean reduced suicide rates among people afflicted with it.
The science behind the drug
The North-Western University researchers found that the brain is highly active during and after the occurrence of a traumatic event. This activity causes a frenzy of interactions between two proteins in the brain long after the event ceases to occur. This molecular understanding of how PTSD comes about helped the scientists to develop a drug that stops the frenzied interaction of the two proteins.
More specifically, injecting the MTEP and MPEP drugs into the patient’s hippocampus region of the brain creates a calming feeling for the patient. This calmness takes about 5 hours to become effective. That means the patient will not experience uncontrollable fear whenever he thinks about his traumatic event. It is a simple solution to prevent PTSD. However, researchers have tried to create such a solution since the official recognition of PTSD by the American Psychological Association in 1980.
Is the drug available for human consumption today?
No, it is not. The scientists, led by Jelena Radulovic, only conducted the experiment on mice. That means it will take some time before the drug is properly tested and becomes available for human consumption.
This study, published in the Biological Psychiatry journal, exposed the mice to various stressful conditions. The mice not injected with MTEP and MPEP were still fearful a month after exposure to these conditions. Those who had the injections behaved normally almost immediately after exposure to stressful conditions.
It is common to test drugs on mice before trying them on humans. Doing so helps researchers understand what would happen to people when exposed to the same conditions. Consequently, the researchers are now working on developing the drug fit for human consumption. They hope that the National Mental Health Institute, which supported this preliminary research, will provide additional funding for further research.