Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hebrew University, German and British Researchers Develop Means to Help Post-Traumatic Stress Sufferers

11.12.2003


Try as we may to suppress memories of highly stressful experiences, they nevertheless come back to bother us – even causing attacks of intense fear or other undesirable behavioral impairments.



Now, a group of German, Israeli and British scientists and students have found that a gene-based approach offers promise for development of a treatment that can suppress these reactions, while not impairing memory itself.

In an article appearing as the cover story in the current issue of Molecular Psychiatry, a team of researchers from the Silberman Institute of Life Sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine in Goettingen, Germany, describe their work with mice who were subjected to stressful conditions.


The team discovered that this stress induces a change in the expression of the acetylcholinesterase gene. Under normal circumstances, this gene produces a vital protein that adheres to neuronal synapses (the interaction sites through which nerve cells communicate with each other). Following stress, however, the same gene produces large quantities of a protein with modified properties that results in heightened electrical signals in the nerve cells communicating through these synapses. The effect is to create reactions of extreme fright or immobilizing shock.

Later encounter with a context which arouses those stressful memories – which might be an object, a sound, an image or other form of association -- can set off that same neuronal reaction. Often, this reaction can have serious consequences, such as chronic fatigue or personality disorders, including post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In the U.S., it is estimated that more than 15 million people a year are identified with PTSD or other anxiety disorders.

The research team at the Hebrew University and in Germany and Britain has succeeded in developing an “antisense” agent that acts to neutralize the process whereby the modified protein is produced, thereby preventing the “extreme” reaction associated with traumatic memory-inducing stimuli.

The researchers from the Hebrew University involved in the project are Prof. Hermona Soreq, who heads the Eric Roland Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, plus Dr. Binyamin Hochner and graduate students Noa Farchi and Ella H. Sklan. Also participating was Dr. Shai Shoham of Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem. From the Max Planck Institute, the participants are Prof. Joachim Spiess, Dr. Thomas Blank and Ph.D. students Ingrid Nijholt and Min-Jeong Kye. Involved with the work also were Birgit Verbeure and David Owen of the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, England.

The object of the research is not to erase memory, emphasizes Prof. Soreq – since memory of dangerous situations or circumstances can be beneficial for survival – but rather to develop a drug that would block the harmful reactions of those suffering from recurring stress symptoms due to lingering memories of past traumatic experiences. Until now there has been no drug to treat the core of the post-stress problem, but rather only its symptoms.

Working towards creating a commercial medicinal product based on the research is Ester Neuroscience, a startup company in Tel Aviv, with backing from the Medica Venture Capital Fund, by agreement with the Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University.

Jerry Barrach | Hebrew University
Further information:
http://www.huji.ac.il/huji/eng/index_e.htm

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Unique brain 'fingerprint' can predict drug effectiveness
11.07.2018 | McGill University

nachricht Direct conversion of non-neuronal cells into nerve cells
03.07.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Research finds new molecular structures in boron-based nanoclusters

13.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Algae Have Land Genes

13.07.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>