Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TRSI) discovered that a drug called blebbistatin can selectively block out drug memories while maintaining other memories. Drug addicts often find themselves, years after getting clean, still battling memories of their addiction. The study found blebbistatin was able to prevent relapse for meth addicted mice.

"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." said TSRI Associate Professor Courtney Miller. 


A motor protein walking along a microtubule inside a cell. Image: Art Of The Cell . Image 1.A motor protein walking along a microtubule inside a cell. Image: Art Of The Cell



In 2013, the team at TRSI discovered that drug-associated memories could be selectively erased by targeting actin, a common protein found in all cells, and used to provide the structural scaffold supporting memory formation in the brain. However, this discovery was limited; it required the drug to be injected directly into the brain, as interfering with the ubiquitous actin protein throughout the body would be fatal.

Blebbistatin, in contrast, can work safely, as it selectively targets brain actin through nonmuscle myosin II, a type of molecular motor protein that carries substances through cells and is vital for creating memories. The blebbistatin doesn’t have to be injected directly into the brain: animals remain healthy and are able to form new memories.

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