Navigation Links
UCSB study of cocaine addiction reveals targets for treatment
Date:2/13/2013

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) Scientists at UC Santa Barbara are researching cocaine addiction, part of a widespread problem, which, along with other addictions, costs billions of dollars in damage to individuals, families, and society. Laboratory studies at UCSB have revealed that the diminished brain function and learning impairment that result from cocaine addiction can be treated and that learning can be restored.

Karen Szumlinski, a professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at UCSB, and her colleagues Osnat Ben-Shahar and Tod Kippin, have worked in the field of addiction for many years. Senior author of a paper on this topic published recently in The Journal of Neuroscience, Szumlinski is particularly interested in the part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex, where the process of "executive function" or decision-making is located. This area is involved in directing one's behavior in an appropriate manner, and in controlling behavior.

With her research team, Szumlinski discovered that a drug that stimulates a certain type of glutamate receptor when aimed at the prefrontal cortex could restore learning impairment in rats with simulated cocaine addiction.

"Needless to say, this (the prefrontal cortex) is one of the last parts of the brain to develop, and, of relevance to our students, continues to develop through about age 25 to 28," said Szumlinski.

Szumlinski explained that in the prefrontal cortex there seems to be "hypo-frontality," or reduced functioning, in drug addicts, as well as in patients with a range of neuropsychiatric diseases, including schizophrenia, depression, and attention deficit disorder.

Szumlinski calls the prefrontal cortex a late-developing brain area that is critical for making proper decisions, and inhibiting behavior. "You damage this brain region and you lose the ability to self-regulate, you make impulsive decisions like engaging in risky sexual behavior or drug-taking, you basically go off the deep end in terms of function," she said. "So we were very much interested in how drugs of abuse impact the prefrontal cortex, given that human drug addicts show deficits in this brain area when you put them into a scanner. They show hypo-activity." She said this hypo-activity, or hypo-frontality, might relate to a neurotransmitter that scientists know is involved in exciting the brain.

A key question, according to Szumlinski, is this: "Was that hypo-frontality there in the first place, and that's why they became an addict; or did the drugs change their prefrontal cortext, to cause it to become hypo-functioning and thus they're not able to control their drug use? You can't parse that out in humans. So that's why we turn then to animal models of the disorder, and we do have this rat model that we use in the paper."

Szumlinski pointed out a key difficulty in the development of treatments for addiction: There is little money targeted to the study of this disease. Hence, in addition to studying the brain mechanisms that are involved, she is joining forces with researchers who study other neurological diseases that are well-funded, to help find cures. She hopes that government approval of new drugs for these other diseases would eventually make the drugs available for clinical trials to study their effects on cocaine addiction.

Szumlinski cited statistics, calculated by scientists M.K. Bird and A.J. Lawrence of Australia, indicating that addiction can cost up to 3.5 percent of gross domestic product in Western countries, equaling $485 billion in the U.S. in 2007. In that year, addiction research received less than 2 percent of public and private funding of all cancer research.


'/>"/>
Contact: Gail Gallessich
gail.g@ia.ucsb.edu
805-893-7220
University of California - Santa Barbara
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Study by UC Santa Barbara researchers suggests that bacteria communicate by touch
2. Law that regulates shark fishery is too liberal: UBC study
3. New study will help protect vulnerable birds from impacts of climate change
4. Study jointly led by UCSB researcher supports theory of extraterrestrial impact
5. BYU study: Using a gun in bear encounters doesnt make you safer
6. 15-year study: When it comes to creating wetlands, Mother Nature is in charge
7. Pycnogenol (French maritime pine bark extract) shown to improve menopause symptoms in new study
8. Crystal structure of archael chromatin clarified in new study
9. EU-funded study underlines importance of Congo Basin for global climate and biodiversity
10. University of Houston study shows BP oil spill hurt marshes, but recovery possible
11. Study demonstrates cells can acquire new functions through transcriptional regulatory network
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
UCSB study of cocaine addiction reveals targets for treatment
(Date:3/28/2017)... The report "Video Surveillance Market ... Storage Devices), Software (Video Analytics, VMS), and Service (VSaaS, ... to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market was valued ... to reach USD 75.64 Billion by 2022, at a ... year considered for the study is 2016 and the ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the ... Forecast to 2025" report to their offering. ... The Global Biometric Vehicle Access System ... over the next decade to reach approximately $1,580 million by 2025. ... forecasts for all the given segments on global as well as ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... March 21, 2017   Neurotechnology , a ... technologies, today announced the release of the ... provides improved facial recognition using up to 10 ... single computer. The new version uses deep neural-network-based ... and it utilizes a Graphing Processing Unit (GPU) ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:7/17/2017)... ... , ... Panitch Schwarze Belisario & Nadel intellectual ... Innovation Group) annual meeting in China. , This year’s meeting, held June 9-10 ... a rapidly developing highly personalized anti-cancer technology that involves removing some of a ...
(Date:7/17/2017)... ... July 17, 2017 , ... DuPont Pioneer ... A website (openinnovation.pioneer.com) dedicated to connecting third-party innovators with DuPont Pioneer ... plant breeding, enabling technologies, biologicals and digital solutions. , “DuPont Pioneer is building ...
(Date:7/16/2017)... ... July 16, 2017 , ... OHAUS ... announced the launch of its new line of Extreme Environment Shakers today. , ... require CO2 and humidity for optimal cell growth such as cell cultures, solubility ...
(Date:7/14/2017)... ... July 14, 2017 , ... Sonic Manufacturing Technologies is proud ... installed a solar system on its roof top. “We will be independent of ... Kenneth Raab stated. The company’s proud history of social responsibility and participation in ...
Breaking Biology Technology: