Scientists Identify First Drug To Suppress Negative Memories

Nicholas West
Activist Post

It is becoming increasingly clear that advancements in genetics and neuroscience are leading toward direct methods of mind control. Once again, the promise of studying memory function is to solve the mysteries of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and disorders such as post-traumatic stress.

Memory alteration raises ethical questions even in cases of horrific abuse. Our memories help us form our identity. Positive or negative lessons from the past can be integrated into our present decisions, enabling us to form new strategies and behaviors that can aid us in our quest for personal evolution. But what if we never knew what memories were real, false, or erased? The military has been facing wave after wave of multi-tour soldiers who are more suicidal and homicidal than ever before. The fragile condition of these soldiers is real, but rather than prompt questions about why human beings are being sent to such horrible and unnecessary war zones, the focus has been finding ways to ensure that there is no memory of the negative experience. This type of rewiring fundamentally alters what it means to be a human being capable of compassion, empathy, and free will. How, for example, could a soldier who saw or even participated in war-time atrocities wake up to the guilt and relay their story as a warning to others, as many have done?

Now scientists are announcing that human genome studies have for the first time revealed the specific molecules and compounds that can be targeted and utilized to selectively reduce the impact of negative memories, while not impacting the neutral or positive. This is extremely dangerous territory, as the implications seem to be that a nine-tour veteran who has seen all manner of horror would magically remember those times as stable and even enjoyable. While this might be a noble solution for the individual affected, what does it mean for those in power who barely, if at all, care about the visible impact they are having upon other human beings? By erasing all memories of trauma, it very well could offer a perfect escape route for any sadist or sociopath to escape future testimony and enjoy their freedom among a fully lobotomized pool of victims.

The full press release is posted below, I’d love to hear your thoughts:

Through analysis of the human genome, Basel scientists have identified molecules and compounds that are related to human memory. In a subsequent pharmacological study with one of the identified compounds, the scientists found a drug-induced reduction of aversive memory. This could have implications for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder, which is characterized by intrusive traumatic memories. The findings have been published in the latest edition of the magazine PNAS.

In the last decade, the human genome project has led to an unprecedented rate of discovery of genes related to humane disease. However, so far it has not been clear to what extent this knowledge can be used for the identification of new drugs, especially in the field of neuropsychiatric disorders. The research groups of Prof. Andreas Papassotiropoulos and Prof. Dominique de Quervain of the Psychiatric University Clinics, the Department of Psychology and the Biozentrum of the University of Basel performed a multinational collaborative study, in order to analyze the genetic basis of emotionally aversive memory – a trait central to anxiety disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder. In a gene-set analysis the scientists identified 20 potential drug target genes that are involved in the process of remembering negative events.

Known Antihistamine Shows Effect

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study and based on the results of the genetic analysis, the scientists examined a compound that interacts with one of the previously identified gene products. Surprisingly, the said compound is a known antihistamine. A single dose of the drug led to significant reduction of memory recall of previously seen aversive pictures; however, it did not affect memory of neutral or positive pictures. These findings could have implications for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder.

With this study, the scientists were for the first time able to demonstrate that human genome information can be used to identify substances that can modulate memory. “The rapid development of innovative methods for genetic analysis has made this new and promising approach possible”, says Papassotiropoulos. The scientists are now planning subsequent studies: “In a further step, we will try to identify and develop memory enhancing drugs”, explains de Quervain. The scientists hope to provide new input for the development of urgently needed improved drugs for the treatment of neuropsychiatric diseases.

Company for Clinical Applications

In order to bring their findings to clinical application, de Quervain and Papassotiropulos founded the company GeneGuide Ltd. this year. The company has specialized in the human genome-based research approach and the discovery of new drugs for neuropsychiatric diseases. This novel approach has been met with great interest by the pharmaceutical industry, since so far the development of improved neuropsychiatric drugs has been rather disappointing.

Original Citation

Andreas Papassotiropoulos, Christiane Gerhards, Angela Heckc, Sandra Ackermann, Amanda Aerni, Nathalie Schicktanz, Bianca Auschra, Philippe Demougin, Eva Mumme, Thomas Elbert, Verena Ertl, Leo Gschwind, Edveena Hanser, Kim-Dung Huynh, Frank Jessen, Iris-Tatjana Kolassa, Annette Milnik, Paolo Paganetti, Klara Spalek, Christian Vogler, Andreas Muhs, Andrea Pfeifer, and Dominique J.-F. de Quervain:

Human genome–guided identification of memory-modulating drugs. PNAS. http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/onas.1314478110

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