A new drug may be able to help drug addicts by erasing memories they have that are associated with their drug of choice, effectively getting rid of the triggers that cause relapses.
In a study, published in the journal Molecular Psychology, researchers outline how they used the drug blebbistatin to target nonmuscle myosin II (NMII), a component in the brain that is involved in the creation of new memories. By getting rid of memories that are associated with triggers — memories attached to certain objects, or events, will often make addicts feel the need to use their drug of choice — researchers at The Scripps Research Institute hope to make it easier for addicts to live a drug-free life.
“We now have a viable target and by blocking the target, we can disrupt, and potentially erase, drug memories, leaving other memories intact,” TSRI Associate Professor Courtney Miller said in a recent press release . “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.”
They injected blebbistatin into animal models along with methamphetamine and found that with only one injection of this compound, long-term, drug-related memories were completely blocked in the animals. Plus, the animals did not relapse for at least a month after receiving the injection.
The team was enthusiastic about its results, finding that this new pathway helps to erase triggers that often lead to relapses. Even more promising is that the injection of blebbistatin can be administered to any part of the body, whereas previous compounds meant to erase these trigger memories had to be injected directly into the brain.