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:2/3/2017)... ANTONIO , Feb. 3, 2017  Texas Biomedical Research ... Dr. Larry Schlesinger as the Institute,s new ... Texas Biomed effective May 31, 2017. He is currently the ... Director of the Center for Microbial Interface Biology at Ohio ... Schlesinger as the new President and CEO of Texas Biomed," ...
(Date:2/1/2017)... IDTechEx Research, a leading provider of independent ... availability of a new report, Sensors for Robotics: Technologies, Markets ... ... ... IDTechEx Report "Sensors for Robotics: Technologies, Markets and Forecasts 2017-2027: Machine ...
(Date:1/25/2017)... The Elements of Enterprise Information Security ... of a comprehensive set of business processes and ... identities and providing a secured and documented access ... number of programs opted by enterprises to maintain ... processes and changing policies. However, there are some ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/28/2017)... , Feb. 28, 2017  Phosphorus, a ... today the formation of the Phosphorus Scientific Advisory ... experts chosen to advise the company on the ... multi-site research initiatives. Please visit http://phosphorus.com/about-us/ ... initiatives. "We,ve gathered some of the ...
(Date:2/28/2017)... WuXi AppTec, a leading global pharmaceutical, ... platform company, today announced that its Lab Testing ... once again passed US FDA,s bioequivalence (BE) ... inspectors from FDA thoroughly audited WuXi,s quality system ... integrity, operation infrastructure, equipment, sample storage, archival system, ...
(Date:2/28/2017)... ... February 28, 2017 , ... ACEA Biosciences, a pioneer ... chronic diseases, has announced Dr. Roger (Feng) Luo as the new Vice President of ... a number of multinational drug companies, Dr. Luo will now team with Dr. Li ...
(Date:2/28/2017)... , Feb. 28, 2017 AMO Pharma Limited ... debilitating diseases including rare genetic diseases with limited or ... with the National Organization for Rare Diseases (NORD) and ... world in commemorating Rare Disease Day, the annual observance ... the millions of patients and families affected by rare ...
Breaking Biology Technology: