July 11, 2012
Blocking a brain receptor in mice eliminates pathological aggression.
BOB HIRSHON (host):
Turning off anger. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Blocking pathological rage could be a boon to mental health, and could even reduce crime rates. Now, University of Southern California pharmacologist Marco Bortolato and his colleagues have found a way to do it, at least in mice. They studied mice with a genetic mutation found in many human violent criminals, and targeted a brain receptor called NMDA.
MARCO BORTOLATO (University of Southern California):
And we found that blocking the whole receptor, we actually could completely annul the aggression.
Bartolato says the NMDA receptor responds to an amino acid called glutamate, which is overproduced in mice with the aggression mutation. Shutting it off seems to protect the mice against a glutamate overload. This could lead to a fast-acting drug that could treat chronic aggression, and maybe even prevent aggression in healthy people experiencing extreme stress. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.