A Chinese research team has achieved "deleting" specific memories of rats in laboratory recently through a genome editing technique, and published a paper on the findings on the Science Advances website.
The research team from the Neuroscience Research Institute of Peking University adopted the genome editing technique based on clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, or CRISPR, to successfully wipe off fear memory of rats in the experiment.
Yi Ming, a researcher in the experiment and co-author of the paper, said that the success would provide new thought in curing refractory pathological memories, such as chronic pain and addiction.
The memory of negative emotions is of great significance for survival, but such memory would become a burden when it cannot be forgotten, which might cause pathological diseases, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome, Yi said.
In essence, chronic pain, drug addiction and chronic stress belong to pathological memories that are long-standing and difficult to be cleared, and it is hard to know the specific mechanism and offer effective treatment, Yi said.
The experiment on editing the distinct neuronal subpopulations in a rat's brain to fulfill the removal of negative memories will be helpful in treating chronic diseases with traditional pharmacology.