Something you want to forget? CRISPR could be used to ‘delete’ traumatic memories

Credit: iStock

Good memories give us a sensation of warmth and hope for better times, but bad memories can cause serious trauma.

But what if you could delete all unpleasant memories? Would you take that option, or do you believe that even the bad memories are part of who you are? Well, the possibility to remove bad memories is becoming all-the-more plausible, and it could soon become a reality.

Researchers at Peking University have used CRISPR gene editing to ‘delete’ memories from rats. More specifically, they removed fearful memories from their test subjects.

Yi Ming, one of the paper’s co-authors, told that the new technique could be used to treat pathological memories and memory-related conditions such as PTSD, drug addiction, chronic pain, and chronic stress. Ming acknowledged that negative memories could be essential for survival, but when too much focus is given to them, they cause psychological and physical disorders.


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The study does not clarify how memories are targeted and what safety measures are taken to ensure that memories essential to one’s survival and identity are not accidentally accessed and deleted. This indicates that much work still needs to be done before the CRISPR treatment becomes a viable practice.

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