Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


New avenues for treatment of cocaine addiction

University of Canterbury discovery opens new avenues for treatment of cocaine addiction

April 27, 2014

Scientists of the University of Canterbury have discovered that by chemically activating a receptor in the brain they can eliminate cravings for cocaine.

The discovery has just been published in the official journal of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (www.nature.com/npp/), a leading publication in psychiatry.

The receptor in question is the trace amine-associated receptor 1 and is found in certain areas that appear to be very sensitive to drugs, Canterbury psychology researcher Dr Juan Canales says.

Cocaine addiction remains at epidemic levels in the United States and in some European countries but therapies to treat this condition are still ineffective. The Canterbury finding opens new avenues for the therapeutic treatment of cocaine addiction.

``It remains to be seen whether activation of this recently discovered receptor provides relief for other forms of addiction too, including alcohol, nicotine and even compulsive eating. This is something we are going to investigate in the near future,’’ Dr Canales says.

The market for cocaine in New Zealand is small and unpredictable. Methamphetamine, another stimulant, represents a much bigger problem.

Canterbury researchers have already conducted experiments to see if activation of the brain receptor is effective with methamphetamine.

``So far the results indicate that activation of the trace amine receptor completely eliminates the self-administration of methamphetamine in rodents as it does for cocaine. We will publish the full results soon.

``Cocaine and methamphetamine produce euphoric effects mainly through activation of a transmitter named dopamine. Dopamine is important for motivation, pleasure and well-being. The problem is that drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine cause a particularly powerful surge of dopamine in the brain.

``By releasing dopamine, drugs create a shortcut to get to the brain’s pleasure centres. Normally dopamine is released when we experience something really exciting. This is how the brain learns and changes our behaviour to produce those outcomes again. Dopamine signals reward in certain situations but is also a teaching signal.

``When cocaine and methamphetamine activate dopamine they fool the brain into thinking that they are really good, or better than anything experienced before but this is only an illusion.’’

The Canterbury research team led by Dr Canales has discovered that when the trace amine receptor is activated, cocaine is unable to release dopamine into the pleasure centres, which explains their findings.

They have also found that, after abstinence from chronic cocaine exposure, cocaine seeking disappears when the trace amine receptor is activated, preventing relapse.

Dr Canales’ postgraduate students are also involved in other addiction projects and work in with the Canterbury District Health Board as part of their research.
ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Scoop Business: RBNZ Keeps OCR At 3.5%, Signals Slower Pace Of Future Hikes

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate at 3.5 percent and signalled he won’t be as aggressive with future rate hikes as previously thought as inflation remains tamer than expected. The kiwi dollar fell to a seven-month low. More>>

ALSO:

Weather: Dry Spells Take Hold In South Island

Many areas in the South Island are tracking towards record dry spells as relatively warm, dry weather that began in mid-August continues... for some South Island places, the current period of fine weather is quite rare. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Productivity Commission To Look At Housing Land Supply

The Productivity Commission is to expand on its housing affordability report with an investigation into improving land supply and development capacity, particularly in areas with strong population growth. More>>

ALSO:

Forestry: Man Charged After 2013 Death

Levin Police have arrested and charged a man with manslaughter in relation to the death of Lincoln Kidd who was killed during a tree felling operation on 19 December 2013. More>>

ALSO:

Smells Like Justice: Dairy Company Fined Over Odour

Dairy company fined over odour Dairy supply company Open Country Dairy Limited has been convicted and fined more than $35,000 for discharging objectionable odour from its Waharoa factory at the time of last year’s ”spring flush” when milk supply was high. More>>

Scoop Business: Dairy Product Prices Decline To Lowest Since July 2012

Dairy product prices dropped to the lowest level since July 2012 in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction, led by a slump in rennet casein and butter milk powder. More>>

ALSO:

SOE Results: TVNZ Lifts Annual Profit 25% On Flat Ad Revenue, Quits Igloo

Television New Zealand, the state-owned broadcaster, lifted annual profit 25 percent, ahead of forecast and despite a dip in advertising revenue, while quitting its stake in the pay-TV Igloo joint venture with Sky Network Television. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Computer Power Plus

Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand

Mosh Social Media
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news