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)

Probable connection between primordial black holes, dark matter? May 25, 4:31 pm
Washington D.C., May 25 (ANI): The nature of dark matter still poses to be one of biggest mysteries in astrophysics. While one view suggests that dark matter is composed of material universe, another proposes that it is made up of black holes formed during the first second of our universe's existence.
Full Story
Selfishness interlinked with resource-poor environment May 25, 4:15 pm
Washington, D.C., May 25 (ANI): As per a new study, selfishness may actually be a beneficial behavior, which is based on a child's environmental context that is to say from being raised in a resource-poor environment.
Full Story
Now, money will determine your love life May 25, 2:23 pm
Washington, D.C., May 25 (ANI): Nowadays, romantic choices are primarily based on money and not feelings and emotions, claims a new study.
Full Story
Meet the top 10 new species for 2016 May 24, 9:50 am
Washington D.C, May 24 (ANI): A species on humans' family tree, hominin, and an ape nicknamed "Laia" that might provide clues to the origin of humans are among the top 10 new species of 2016.
Full Story
Comments