An intriguing anti-aging drug target may also work on PTSD

Dr. Hilmar Bading

For several years now a number of academic investigators have been fascinated by animal studies which show that boosting levels of Dnmt3a2 protein helped reverse cognitive decline in older rodents, pointing the way to an intriguing new approach to treating neurodegenerative diseases associated with aging, like Alzheimer's.

Now researchers at Heidelberg University say they've added to the literature, demonstrating that spurring Dnmt3a2 also boosts cognition in young mice and pointing to its possible use in a therapeutic approach to post-traumatic stress disorder. The scientists say it could play a role similar to confrontational therapy, resolving PTSD by interrupting or erasing associations.

"We found that mice with a higher Dnmt3a2 level in the brain were able to erase the association between a specific place and a painful stimulus with far greater efficiency," Dr. Hilmar Bading said in a release.

The research underscores a growing belief in certain academic circles that Dnmt3a2 offers a big target for R&D teams interested in countering the effects of aging. But the scientists at Heidelberg also say that as the preclinical evidence of efficacy grows, the chances will grow that some people may start to take this approach before all the efficacy and safety issues are thoroughly investigated.

But they're still excited about the potential.

"They could be used to develop new medications to improve memory in senile dementia or in patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's," said Bading in the release. 

- here's the release
- read the journal abstract

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