Cocaine abuse may disrupt brain's reward system

   Apr 23, 11:06 am

London, Apr 23 (ANI): Repeated exposure to cocaine reduces the activity of a protein essential for normal functioning of the brain's reward system, thus enhancing the reward for cocaine use and stimulating addiction, a new study has revealed.

The findings by researchers from Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York provide the first evidence of how cocaine changes the shape and size of neuron rewards in a mouse model.

Using the protein's light-activated form in real time, in a technique known as optogenetics, investigators were also able to block repeated cocaine exposure from enhancing the brain's reward centre from cocaine.

Even though the results are very early and many steps will be important in moving from mice to humans, the researchers say that the finding opens the door to a new direction for treatment for cocaine addiction.

"There are virtually no medication regimens for cocaine addiction, only psychotherapy, and some early work with vaccines," said the study's senior investigator, Eric Nestler, MD, PhD, Nash Family Professor of Neuroscience, Chairman of the Neuroscience and Director of the Friedman Brain Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

The protein, Rac1, is found in many cells in mice, rats, monkeys, and humans, and it is known to be involved in controlling the growth of nerve cells.

Investigators "knocked out," or deleted, the gene responsible for Rac1 production, or injected a virus to enhance expression of Rac1.

"The research gives us new information on how cocaine affects the brain's reward center and how it could potentially be repaired," said Dr. Nestler.

"This is the first case in the brain in vivo where it's been possible to control the activity of a protein, inside nerve cells in real time. Our findings reveal new pathways and target - a proof of principle study really - for treatment of cocaine addiction ," Dr. Nestler added.

The study has been published in the journal Nature Neuroscience. (ANI)

Computer games enhance English vocabulary! Aug 29, 3:36 pm
Washington, Aug 29 (ANI): A new study has revealed that people who are good at computer games have a larger English vocabulary.
Full Story
New DNA study explores history of Arctic's earliest people Aug 29, 2:25 pm
Washington, Aug 29 (ANI): A new research has explored the DNA of current and former people of Greenland, Arctic Canada, Alaska, the Aleutian Islands and Siberia showing that a variety of cultures survived the harsh climate for thousands of years.
Full Story
Scientists plan to record every sound made on Earth! Aug 29, 2:25 pm
Washington, Aug 29 (ANI): Scientists are planning to record "every sound the Earth makes", from the songs of birds to the vibrations made by ocean waves, via online sensors in Indiana, which will run for a year.
Full Story
Now, fungus-derived antibiotic may help in fighting bacteria Aug 29, 2:04 pm
Washington, August 29 (ANI): A new study has confirmed potent synthesis of natural tetracycline, which is a recently discovered natural antibiotic.
Full Story
Comments

LATEST STORIES
TOP VIDEO STORIES
PHOTO GALLERY