Go to contents


Korean scientists discover drug for treating PTSD

Posted August. 18, 2016 07:22,   

Updated August. 18, 2016 07:40


A group of Korean scientists have discovered a drug for curing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for the first time in the world and started clinical tests. PTSD patients feel extreme anxiety when they are in a situation or place or in contact with things that remind them of the accident or incident they experienced.

A team led by Ryu In-kyun and Kim Ji-eun, professors of brain and cognitive sciences at Ewha Womans University, said Wednesday that it won approval for clinical tests of the drug they found effective in overcoming PTSD and phobias from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety and the Institutional Review Board.

The researchers discovered a new efficacy of N-acetylcysteine, which was used to help break down the phlegm, and developed the new drug through a drug repositioning process. As the drug was not required to undergo toxicity test, the scientists received a greenlight for the second-phase clinical tests.

The researchers gave memories of phobia by giving them light electrical shocks while showing them particular colors on the computer screen. People who had the experience show phobic reactions without electrical shocks when they see the same colors. The researchers confirmed through a preliminary clinical test conducted last year that those who took the drug showed 15 to 20 percent less phobic reactions than those who did not.

So far, there have been attempts to remove the phobic memories themselves by stimulating cranial nerves. However, no drug has been developed to reduce PTSD symptoms while maintaining other memories. The researchers are currently verifying the effectiveness of the drug on some 100 ordinary people and plan to conduct tests on dozens of PTSD patients in about three months.

“We expect to productize the drug in a year or two,” said Professor Kim. “If we combine cognitive behavior treatment that would reduce phobic reactions by using virtual reality, it would significantly help overcome PTSD and phobias.”

송경은 동아사이언스기자kyungeun@donga.com