Method to erase traumatic memories may be on the horizon

Soldiers haunted by scenes of war and victims scarred by violence may wish they could wipe the memories from their minds. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University say that may someday be possible.

A commercial drug remains far off — and its use would be subject to many ethical and practical questions. But scientists have laid a foundation with their discovery that proteins can be removed from the brain’s fear center to erase memories forever.

“When a traumatic event occurs, it creates a fearful memory that can last a lifetime and have a debilitating effect on a person’s life,” says Richard L. Huganir, professor and chair of neuroscience in the Hopkins School of Medicine. He said his finding on the molecular process “raises the possibility of manipulating those mechanisms with drugs to enhance behavioral therapy for such conditions as post-traumatic stress disorder.”

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