Scientists Discover New Component of Cocaine Addiction
Author: Shernide Delva
What if there was a way to prevent cocaine addiction? Scientists are looking into it. The results from a recent study reveal that cocaine addiction may have strong genetic components. The study was based on an experiment on mice.
The mice were genetically engineered sothat they could no longer feel the addictive effects of cocaine. Now, the concept of doing the same thing on humans could be the future. The results were obtained by creating mice with higher levels of a protein called cadherin, which helps strengthen synapses in the brain.
Scientists initially thought this would make mice more susceptible to cocaine addiction. Shockingly, the experiment had the opposite effect. Canadian researchers suggest that the results provide more evidence that habitual drug use has its roots in biochemistry and genetics.
Dr. Shernaz Bamji and her collaborators at the University of British Columbia conducted the study by injecting cocaine into mice over a number a days. Then, after injecting the mice, they would place them in distinctly decorate compartments in a three-room cage, so that the mice would associate the drug with that compartment.
After several days, the mice were placed in the cage and allowed to choose the compartment they preferred. Turns out, the mice spent half as much time in the cocaine compartments as normal mice. The results indicate that the genetically modified mice had not formed strong memories of the drug. It seems like the cadherin protein helped combat the cravings for the addiction.
The researchers found that the extra cadherin provided a neurochemical receptor from doing its job. The receptor made it difficult.
“For normal learning, we need to be able to both weaken and strengthen synapses,” Dr Bamji said. “That plasticity allows for the pruning of some neural pathways and the formation of others, enabling the brain to adapt and to learn. Ideally, we would need to find a molecule that blocks formation of a memory of a drug-induced high, while not interfering with the ability to remember important things.”
What do you think of the study?
Could this experiment potentially help researchers understand cocaine addiction?
Cocaine addiction is a strong stimulant used as a recreational drug. Cocaine is used in a variety of ways. Some ways cocaine is administered is through snorting, inhaling, or injecting the substance into the veins. Mental effects of cocaine may include loss of contact with reality, an intense feeling or happiness or agitation.
Physical symptoms of cocaine vary but may include a fast heart rate, sweating and large pupils. High doses of cocaine result in potential dangerous effects. The effects of cocaine begin minutes after use and last between five and ninety minutes.
Cocaine is known for being very addictive. Genetics may influence cocaine addiction; however this is yet to be fully confirmed. Studies like the one above help scientists to understand cocaine addiction and why it occurs. The goal is that the results from this study can be used to further treatment for cocaine addiction.
If you are someone you know is struggling with cocaine addiction, you are not alone. Studies like these are intended to help with furthering treatment options for cocaine addiction. Therefore, if you are struggling, we have professionals waiting to help you. Do not wait. Call now.
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