TECH

Drug Addicts Could Fight Addiction With Memory-erasing Chemical Scientists Say

12/08/2015 16:46 BST | Updated 12/08/2015 16:59 BST

Scientists have found a way to erase drug-related memories, without causing 'widespread damage' to the brain.

In a study published in Molecular Psychiatry, researchers explained how they were able to target a molecule known as nonmuscle myosin IIB (myosin), that allows them to safely delete specific memories.

Lead author Courtney A. Miller from the Department of Neuroscience at The Scripps Research Institute, stated that the experiment was a breakthrough as previous memory-deletion chemicals ran the risk of doing widespread damage.

scripps institute authors

Authors of the new study

She says memories can be a powerful trigger that often causes many who have maintained a successful period of abstinence to relapse.

In an interview with the Washington Post, she explained how her research proved a chemical, known as Blebbistati, to be quite an effective drug addiction-fighting tool.

“Immediately following withdrawal, most substance users enter a ‘honeymoon’ phase where they report feeling physically and emotionally well, with few cravings..."

“However, approximately 1–3 months into recovery, many abstinent individuals report hitting a ‘wall’.

So far, pharmacology has had little to offer in the way of medication that can help at this particular stage of recovery.

However, Miller argues that her research could change this.

“The idea is that someone would go into a rehab program with the typical abstinence therapies and while they are in the treatment program they would receive this medication one time and it should remove all of the associations with the drug.”

However, the main proviso around her conclusion is that it comes from an animal study. The science is yet to be applied to humans.

In a statement, Miller said: “The hope is that, when combined with traditional rehabilitation and abstinence therapies, we can reduce or eliminate relapse for meth users after a single treatment by taking away the power of an individual’s triggers.”