Navigation Links
Discovery could yield treatment for cocaine addicts

EAST LANSING, Mich. --- Scientists have discovered a molecular process in the brain triggered by cocaine use that could provide a target for treatments to prevent or reverse addiction to the drug.

Reporting in the Journal of Neuroscience, Michigan State University neuroscientist A.J. Robison and colleagues say cocaine alters the nucleus accumbens, the brain's pleasure center that responds to stimuli such as food, sex and drugs.

"Understanding what happens molecularly to this brain region during long-term exposure to drugs might give us insight into how addiction occurs," said Robison, assistant professor in the Department of Physiology and the Neuroscience Program.

The researchers found that cocaine causes cells in the nucleus accumbens to boost production of two proteins, one associated with addiction and the other related to learning. The proteins have a reciprocal relationship -- they increase each other's production and stability in the cells -- so the result is a snowball effect that Robison calls a feed-forward loop.

Robison and colleagues demonstrated that loop's essential role in cocaine responses by manipulating the process in rodents. They found that raising production of the protein linked to addiction made animals behave as if they were exposed to cocaine even when they weren't. They also were able to break the loop, disrupting rodents' response to cocaine by preventing the function of the learning protein.

"At every level that we study, interrupting this loop disrupts the process that seems to occur with long-term exposure to drugs," said Robison, who conducted the study as a postdoctoral fellow at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City before joining the faculty at MSU.

Robison said the study was particularly compelling because it found signs of the same feed-forward loop in the brains of people who died while addicted to cocaine.

"The increased production of these proteins that we found in the animals exposed to drugs was exactly paralleled in a population of human cocaine addicts," he said. "That makes us believe that the further experiments and manipulations we did in the animals are directly relevant to humans."

Robison said the growing understanding of addiction at the molecular level could help pave the way for new treatments for addicts.

"This sort of molecular pathway could be interrupted using genetic medicine, which is what we did with the mice," he said. "Many researchers think that is the future of medicine."


Contact: Andy McGlashen
Michigan State University

Related biology news :

1. Discovery may explain how prion diseases spread between different types of animals
2. Gene discovery reveals importance of eating your greens
3. IU discovery on animal memory opens doors to research on memory impairment diseases
4. Cell discovery could hold key to causes of inherited diseases
5. New scorpion discovery near metropolitan Tucson, Arizona
6. The discovery of a new genus of crustacean and 5 new species
7. A*STAR scientists groundbreaking discovery of nucleus structure crucial to understanding diseases
8. Discovery of sexual mating in Candida albicans could provide insights into infections
9. New discovery in autism-related disorder reveals key mechanism in brain development and disease
10. Discovery of Africa moth species important for agriculture, controlling invasive plants
11. Discovery may pave way to genetically enhanced biofuel crops
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/27/2015)... 27, 2015 In the present market scenario, ... for various industry verticals such as banking, healthcare, defense, ... growing demand for secure & simplified access control and ... as hacking of bank accounts, misuse of users, , ... as PC,s, laptops, and smartphones are expected to provide ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... SAN JOSE, Calif. , Oct. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... human interface solutions, today announced that Google has adopted ... family of touch controller solutions to power its newest ... Nexus 6P by Huawei. --> ... ecosystem partners like Google to provide strategic collaboration in ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... and LAS VEGAS , Oct. ... Labs , an innovator in modern authentication and a ... announced the launch of its latest version of the ... enabling organizations to use standards-based authentication that supports existing ... S3 Authentication Suite is ideal for organizations deploying customer-facing ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... Studies reveal the differences in species of ... way for more effective treatment for one of the most ... --> --> Gum disease is ... yet relatively little was understood about the bacteria associated with ... by researchers from the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition together ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ:  AEZS; TSX: ... prospects remain fundamentally strong and highlights the following ... received DSMB recommendation to continue the ZoptEC Phase ... the final interim efficacy and safety data ... men with heavily pretreated castration- and Taxane-resistant prostate ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... November 25, 2015 The ... is a professional and in-depth study on the ...      (Logo: ) , ... industry including definitions, classifications, applications and industry chain ... the international markets including development trends, competitive landscape ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... The United States Golf Association (USGA) today ... Green Section Award. Presented annually since 1961, the USGA Green Section Award recognizes an ... turfgrass. , Clarke, of Iselin, N.J., is an extension specialist of turfgrass ...
Breaking Biology Technology: