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)

Twins have low language performance in comparison to single-born kids Jul 22, 4:30 pm
Washington, July 22 (ANI): A recent study has revealed that the rate of language delay among twins is almost twice as compared to the single-born children.
Full Story
'Natural cooling fluctuation' masked greenhouse effect during last decade: Study Jul 22, 4:30 pm
Washington, July 22 (ANI): A new study has revealed that a natural cooling fluctuation between 1998 and 2013 largely masked the warming effects of a continued increase in man-made emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Full Story
Microbiologists unravel mystery of TB causing microbe Jul 22, 4:01 pm
Washington, July 22 (ANI): Microbiologists has find the mechanisms by which the aerobic soil microbe Mycobacterium smegmatis is able to persist for extreme lengths of time in the absence, or near-absence, of oxygen which might develop a revolutionary class of antibiotics to tackle TB.
Full Story
Trying harder doesn't help adults learn languages: Study Jul 22, 3:15 pm
Washington, July 22 (ANI): A new study has revealed that the harder adults try to learn an artificial language, the worse they are at deciphering the language's morphology, the structure and deployment of linguistic units such as root words, suffixes, and prefixes.
Full Story
Comments

LATEST STORIES
TOP VIDEO STORIES
PHOTO GALLERY