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August 18, 2017

Memories of Fear Could Be Permanently Erased, Study Shows

Slashdot: Science - Fetched: August 18th, 2017, 11:00pm EDT
A new study unpicks why certain sounds can stir alarming memories, and reveals a new approach to wiping such memories from the brain. The Guardian reports: Published in the journal Neuron by Cho and his colleague Woong Bin Kim, the research reveals how the team used genetically modified mice to examine the pathways between the area of the brain involved in processing a particular sound and the area involved in emotional memories, known as the amygdala. In the first part of the experiment the team played both a high pitched and low-pitched tone to mice. But, when the high-pitched sound was played, the researchers also gave the mice a small electric shock to their feet. When the high-pitched tone was subsequently played on its own, the mice froze in fear; no such response was seen when the alternative, low-pitched, tone was played. The team then looked to see if there were differences between the high-pitch and low-pitch tone pathways in the brains of the mice, revealing that, among the mice exposed electric shocks, the connections within the "high-pitched" pathway had become stronger, while the other pathway remained unchanged. The team found that when mice were subsequently repeatedly exposed to high-pitched sounds without the shocks they lost their fear -- a process known as fear extinction. But the team discovered that using a technique called optogenetics, it was possible to truly erase the unpleasant memories. This technique involved the researchers using a virus to introduce genes into particular neurons in the brains of the mice that were involved in the "high-pitch" pathways. Once inside the cells, the genes result in the production of proteins which respond to light, allowing researchers to control the activity of the neurons. Taking mice with the fearful memories, the team exposed the neurons involved in the "high-pitch" pathway to low-frequency light -- an approach which weakens the connections between the neurons. The upshot was that the mice no longer appeared fearful when they heard the high-pitched tone.pdiv class="share_submission" style="position:relative;" a class="slashpop" href="http://twitter.com/home?status=Memories+of+Fear+Could+Be+Permanently+Erased%2C+Study+Shows%3A+http%3A%2F%2Fbit.ly%2F2vM0jFU"img src="https://a.fsdn.com/sd/twitter_icon_large.png"/a a class="slashpop" href="http://www.facebook.com/sharer.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fscience.slashdot.org%2Fstory%2F17%2F08%2F18%2F2113239%2Fmemories-of-fear-could-be-permanently-erased-study-shows%3Futm_source%3Dslashdot%26utm_medium%3Dfacebook"img src="https://a.fsdn.com/sd/facebook_icon_large.png"/a a class="nobg" href="http://plus.google.com/share?url=https://science.slashdot.org/story/17/08/18/2113239/memories-of-fear-could-be-permanently-erased-study-shows?utm_source=slashdotamp;utm_medium=googleplus" onclick="javascript:window.open(this.href,'', 'menubar=no,toolbar=no,resizable=yes,scrollbars=yes,height=600,width=600');return false;"img src="http://www.gstatic.com/images/icons/gplus-16.png" alt="Share on Google+"//a /div/ppa href="https://science.slashdot.org/story/17/08/18/2113239/memories-of-fear-could-be-permanently-erased-study-shows?utm_source=rss1.0moreanonamp;utm_medium=feed"Read more of this story/a at Slashdot./pimg src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Slashdot/slashdotScience/~4/aVX3RuCE9CQ" height="1" width="1" alt=""/

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New Immunotherapy Trial Cures Kids of Peanut Allergy For Up To Four Years

Slashdot: Science - Fetched: August 18th, 2017, 4:00am EDT
Using a new kind of immunotherapy treatment, Australian researchers have managed to cure a majority of the children in their study suffering from a peanut allergy. "The desensitization to peanuts persisted for up to four years after treatment," reports The Guardian. From the report: Tang, an immunologist and allergist, pioneered a new form of treatment that combines a probiotic with peanut oral immunotherapy, known as PPOIT. Instead of avoiding the allergen, the treatment is designed to reprogram the immune system's response to peanuts and eventually develop a tolerance. It's thought that combining the probiotic with the immunotherapy gives the immune system the "nudge" it needs to do this, according to Tang. Forty-eight children were enrolled in the PPOIT trial and were randomly given either a combination of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus with peanut protein in increasing amounts, or a placebo, once daily for 18 months. At the end of the original trial in 2013, 82% of children who received the immunotherapy treatment were deemed tolerant to peanuts compared with just 4% in the placebo group. Four years later, the majority of the children who gained initial tolerance were still eating peanuts as part of their normal diet and 70% passed a further challenge test to confirm long-term tolerance. The results have been published in the Lancet Child amp; Adolescent Health.pdiv class="share_submission" style="position:relative;" a class="slashpop" href="http://twitter.com/home?status=New+Immunotherapy+Trial+Cures+Kids+of+Peanut+Allergy+For+Up+To+Four+Years%3A+http%3A%2F%2Fbit.ly%2F2vIOgsP"img src="https://a.fsdn.com/sd/twitter_icon_large.png"/a a class="slashpop" href="http://www.facebook.com/sharer.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fscience.slashdot.org%2Fstory%2F17%2F08%2F17%2F2155205%2Fnew-immunotherapy-trial-cures-kids-of-peanut-allergy-for-up-to-four-years%3Futm_source%3Dslashdot%26utm_medium%3Dfacebook"img src="https://a.fsdn.com/sd/facebook_icon_large.png"/a a class="nobg" href="http://plus.google.com/share?url=https://science.slashdot.org/story/17/08/17/2155205/new-immunotherapy-trial-cures-kids-of-peanut-allergy-for-up-to-four-years?utm_source=slashdotamp;utm_medium=googleplus" onclick="javascript:window.open(this.href,'', 'menubar=no,toolbar=no,resizable=yes,scrollbars=yes,height=600,width=600');return false;"img src="http://www.gstatic.com/images/icons/gplus-16.png" alt="Share on Google+"//a /div/ppa href="https://science.slashdot.org/story/17/08/17/2155205/new-immunotherapy-trial-cures-kids-of-peanut-allergy-for-up-to-four-years?utm_source=rss1.0moreanonamp;utm_medium=feed"Read more of this story/a at Slashdot./pimg src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Slashdot/slashdotScience/~4/hOCRthAH_s8" height="1" width="1" alt=""/

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