Scientists discover molecule in brain could use to cure cocaine addiction

Baku, August 12 AZERTAC

The research, published online by the journal Biological Psychiatry, shows that blocking hypocretin may reduce compulsive drug-seeking behaviour when tested on rats.

Study co-author Professor Marisa Roberto, from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in America, said: “Cocaine addiction is a disorder that affects millions of people worldwide.

Scientists said that addiction seems like a simple concept – taking a drug motivates a person to continue to take it – but that the molecules in the brain that drive addiction are more complex.

For the study, one group of rats was given the option to self-administer cocaine for one hour a day, mimicking conditions of short-term, occasional drug use.

A second group had the option to self-administer cocaine for six hours a day, which mimicked the conditions that lead to compulsive drug use and addiction. Scientists found that compulsive cocaine use triggers a dangerous cycle in the brain, with cocaine sensitising the hypothalamic hypocretin/orexin (HCRT) system, which motivates further drug-seeking.

Specifically, compulsive cocaine use leads to increased hypocretin, which contributes to over-activity in the part of the brain linked to stress.

Professor Roberto added: “The rats escalated their daily intake as many human users would.”

She said that giving the rats medicine to block the over-activity at one of the two receptors in that part of the brain made them stop wanting drugs as often – suggesting potential treatments could be created for cocaine addiction or relapse.

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