Researchers from the Scripps Research Institute in Florida have developed a memory-erasing medication for addicted meth users that could be some incredible news revealing the future of meth rehabilitation treatment.
The drug is called Blebbistatin, or Blebb, and it disrupts the unstable processes our brains have that are associated with the psychoactive drug.
The Scientists hope that a single injection will serve as the only memory-erasing treatment and parallel the traditional methods of rehabilitation.
So far, The Scripps Research Institute has only tested Blebbistatin on meth addicted mice but the preliminary findings show that it can selectively erase the memories related to meth addiction.
Gary S. Lynch, professor of psychiatry and human behavior at University of California School of Medicine, told Discovery News,
“The findings here are real game changers. What this points to is a completely new strategy for treatment of addiction. For the past 10 years there have been many challenges to the notion that memories are cemented in. But this study shows that memory really is still a dynamic, malleable business and that there can be another way of dealing with dependency.”
The mechanism behind the drug utilizes properties involved in how memories form. The memories we all have of our childhood, a sporting event, or a birthday party are formed from the connection of neurons inside our brain made possible by the protein actin. When these memories are formed, the actin protein begins the process of detaching and reattaching itself to the neuron. Actin quickly stabilizes and the memory is secured in the brain. But when a memory is created using meth, the actin never actually stabilizes.
In memories associated to drug addiction, the actin remains dynamic for a longer period of time and researchers found that they could specifically prevent the actin from reattaching itself to the neuron, thus, blocking access to the memory of using meth. Blebbistatin, selectively targets our brain’s unstable actin by utilizing nonmuscle myosin IIB, a molecule that interrupts the unstable actin but doesn’t disable or affect the protein’s other critical functions (heart contractions and muscle function).
Associate Professor Courtney Miller of the Scripps Research Institute said,
“Usually, the proteins stabilize quickly, but with the meth memories, the proteins remain dynamic. We were able to use a drug that only targeted the dynamic proteins that hold those memories.”
While some of us are understandably skeptical and possibly horrified by a drug being able to erase memories, scientists from Scripps Research believe their work could potentially revolutionize drug addiction treatment, allowing millions drug addicts to literally forget the memories that cause relapses and fatal overdoses.
The next step for the researchers is to evaluate whether this promising breakthrough in meth rehabilitation can be applied to other types of drug addiction.
Currently, they are applying for federal grants with the hopes of starting clinical trials within 5 years. Before the treatment can be used tested on humans, they have to test the medicine’s effect on other drugs before it gets green-light for human trials.