Leading article: Dread locked

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The Independent Online

Scientists have apparently developed a means of rendering rats fearless. The administering of a special protein directly to the brain of the rodents enables them to extinguish paralysing feelings of dread.

One has to hope those rats never escape the researchers' cages. A bold approach to life can be a great advantage. But it could be rather dangerous, if they were to run into a cat. As Aeschylus put it: "There are times when fear is good. It must keep its watchful place at the heart's controls."

The scientists suggest that this drug could be adapted to help those of us who suffer from anxiety disorders. But there are surely some wider applications. Officials at the Treasury tasked with wrestling with our terrifying budget deficit could probably use some anti-fear injections. And anyone who works for Naomi Campbell merits a stockpile of the medicine. Tidjane Thiam and Tony Hayward will be in the market for a taste.

But we are in danger of overlooking the most important question: is there going to be some of the drug ready by the time our boys in South Africa line up for their inevitable World Cup penalty shoot-out?