Health Discoveries in General Health News

Genetic link may be made to cocaine addictions

October 26, 2010
A brain protein may provide a genetic link to the development of cocaine addictions, researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida, have found.


In laboratory tests funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), researchers found that cocaine consumption increased levels of the protein MeCP2 and lab animals in turn were motivated to ingest more cocaine.


Previously, Scripps researchers found that the regulatory molecule miRNA-212 decreased the motivation to take cocaine. In their latest study, they learned that the brain's balance between MeCP2 and miRNA-212 regulates cocaine intake, with the motivation to take cocaine occurring when the balance shifts to MeCP2. How the balance is determined is not yet known.


"This study represents another piece in the puzzle of determining vulnerability to cocaine addiction," said Paul J. Kenny, an associate professor at Scripps. "If we can continue putting the pieces together, we may be able to determine whether there are viable treatments for this condition."


The Project Outreach clinic, affiliated with Zucker Hillside Hospital, is part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System. It treats a wide range of patients with substance abuse problems, and those with addictions and mental health issues.
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