Study Shows Promise for Developing Treatment Medication for Cocaine Addiction

Study Shows Promise for Developing Treatment Medication for Cocaine Addiction

A new study enabled scientists to see exactly how cocaine modifies brain activity, which offers insight into the development of medications to treat cocaine addiction. Scientists used a new molecular analysis technique to observe changes in the gene activity of mice that were injected with cocaine.

Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, said, “The study’s findings enable us to glimpse for the first time exactly how cocaine modifies the activity of genes in regions of the brain that that mediate reward.” She continued, “These genes represent promising new targets for the development of medications to treat cocaine addiction.”

The process showed that a family of genes called the sirtuins are activated by repeated cocaine use and prompt addiction-related behaviors in lab animals. “This analysis provides fundamentally new information about the range of genes that are altered by cocaine in this brain region,” said Dr. Eric Nestler of New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “We showed that blocking the activity of the sirtuins reduced both cocaine’s rewarding effects and the motivation to self-administer the drug.”

This means that using this information, scientists may be able to develop a drug that reduces a person’s desire for cocaine as well as the euphoric feeling that is experienced when using it.

Source:  NIDA, NIDA Study Reveals Widespread Effects of Cocaine on Genome Structure and Function, May 13, 2009

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