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Common Antibiotic Could Heal PTSD, Experts Say

Apr 06, 2017 01:28 PM EDT
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Scientists discovered that a common antibiotic might be able to cure PSTD. A series of testing resulted in the finding that a common antibiotic may help victims forget about being scared.
(Photo : Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Scientists discovered that a common antibiotic might be a potent cure for treating and preventing post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

Researchers from the University College London and the University of Zurich conducted the new study, calling it a new strategy to curb the effect of PTSD. They found out that a common antibiotic called doxycycline could help disrupt negative associations in the brain. The study was published in the Molecular Psychiatry.

Symptoms of PTSD usually surface after a person was exposed to traumatic events. A series of psychological symptoms help doctors identify the condition as PTSD. Currently, there are a lot of medications and techniques available to combat PTSD. The study presented another way to help victims of PTSD.

"We have demonstrated a proof-of-principle for an entirely new treatment strategy for PTSD," lead author of the study Professor Dominik Bach said in a statement. "The theory is based on the recent discovery that our brains need proteins outside nerve cells, called matrix enzymes, to form memories

The researchers tested a placebo-controlled trial with the help of 76 participants. The respondents were exposed to electric shock while receiving doxycycline and placebo. They were conditioned to associate a color with the shock. A week after continued testing, they were tested to identify the colors without the electric shock but with a loud sound.

Based on the trial, the participants' fear response measured up to 60 percent lower in participants exposed to doxycycline compared to those taking placebos.

"When we talk about reducing fear memory, we are not talking about deleting the memory of what actually happened," Dominik Bach, from UCL Welcome Center for Neuroimaging, Max Planck UCL Center for Computational Psychiatry and Aging Research and the University of Zurich Division of Clinical Psychiatry Research, said in a press release.

The study found out that the human brain is capable of forgetting to "instinctively" be scared. One example is that the participants may not forget to associate the color red with the electric shock, but they can forget being scared when the same color was shown. The psychology is analyzing the over-prediction of a threat compared to the natural ability to predict threat that is causing PTSD.

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