In a subsequent pharmacological study with one of the identified compounds, the scientists found a drug-induced reduction of aversive memory.
Investigators believe this finding could have implications for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder, which is characterized by intrusive traumatic memories.
The findings have been published in the journal PNAS.
Researchers from the University of Basel led a multinational collaborative study to analyze the genetic basis of emotionally aversive memory — a trait central to anxiety disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In a gene-set analysis, the scientists identified 20 potential drug target genes that are involved in the process of remembering negative events.
Researchers used a double-blind, placebo-controlled study based on the results of genetic analysis, to examine a compound that interacts with one of the previously identified gene products.
Investigators discovered a single dose of the drug (a known antihistamine) led to significant reduction of memory recall of previously seen aversive pictures. However, the drug did not affect memory of neutral or positive pictures.
Experts believe the findings could have implications for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder.
With this study, the scientists were for the first time able to demonstrate that human genome information can be used to identify substances that can modulate memory.
Researchers believe this discover may help scientists identify and develop memory-enhancing drugs that would be beneficial for the treatment of neuropsychiatric diseases.
Source: University of Basel