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

 


Understanding ‘P’ addiction

Understanding ‘P’ addiction

A Victoria University of Wellington graduate has found new ways in which methamphetamine use can alter the brain, as part of the PhD in Biomedical Science he was awarded last week.

Dr Peter Bosch focused his research on how the brain’s natural reward pathways are strongly stimulated following exposure to methamphetamine.

“The brain reward system is a group of cells that send signals when we do anything rewarding, such as exercising, eating food or drinking water,” he says. “Drugs of addiction—like amphetamines or cocaine—target the reward system, activating that particular part of the brain."

Although New Zealanders are among the highest users of methamphetamine worldwide, Dr Bosch says the genetic and cellular modifications induced by the drug are not completely understood.

“When it came to putting together my PhD project, I really wanted it to have a New Zealand angle. There’s not a huge amount of research on methamphetamine compared to other drugs of abuse, like cocaine.”

During his research, Dr Bosch studied many thousands of genes and proteins within the reward system to identify what was altered following exposure to the highly addictive drug.

“We tried to study as many genes and proteins as we could, and then see what changed the most significantly following methamphetamine. We saw a number of genes and proteins which had previously been associated with the drug, but also ones which hadn’t been associated with it before.”

Dr Bosch says identifying these previously undescribed genetic and protein changes represents an exciting target for future drug-based therapies in the treatment of addiction, including relapses, which are a major challenge.

“The biggest trouble for researchers is trying to prevent someone from relapsing, which occurs in 80-90 percent of cases for psycho-stimulant addictions.

“There's something going on in terms of how the brain has responded to the drug, that sets the brain up to relapse at another stage in life. By identifying the genes that have been altered, we can explore possible reasons for why some people are more vulnerable to drug relapses.”

Over the past couple of months, Dr Bosch has been putting together projects that Victoria honours and master’s students will be able to carry out, furthering the discoveries he has made.

Having completed undergraduate and honours studies at Victoria, Dr Bosch says he had an idea of what was possible in his three and a half year doctorate.

“I collaborated with the School of Psychology, because of the work they've done on addiction, and was also able to use the fantastic equipment we have in the School of Biological Sciences.

“That was the reason I first got started—because I knew I could do everything that I wanted, and that the University had all the expertise within quite a small distance.”
Ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Scoop Business: Wheeler Downplays Scope For ‘Large’ Rates Fall

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler says some market commentators are predicting further declines in interest rates that would only make sense for an economy in recession, although some easing is likely to be needed to maintain New Zealand’s economic growth. More>>

ALSO:

Ruataniwha Dam: Consent Conditions Could Mean Reduced Intensity

Legal advice sought by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council on the Ruataniwha Dam consent conditions has confirmed that farmers who sign up to take water from the dam could be required to reduce the intensity of their farming operation to meet the catchment’s strict nitrogen limit. More>>

Health And Safety: Bill Now Sees Rules Relaxed For Small Businesses

Health and safety law reform sparked by the Pike River coalmine disaster has been reported back from the industrial relations select committee with weakened requirements on small businesses to appoint health and safety representatives and committees. More>>

ALSO:

Bearing Fruit: Annual Fruit Exports Hit $2 Billion For First Time

The value of fruit exported rose 20 percent (up $330 million) for the June 2015 year when compared with the year ended June 2014. Both higher prices and a greater quantity of exports (up 9.0 percent) contributed to the overall rise. More>>

ALSO:

Interest Rates: NZ Dollar Jumps After RBNZ Trims OCR

The New Zealand dollar jumped more than half a US cent after Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler cut the official cash rate by a quarter-point and said the currency needs to be lower, while dropping a reference to criteria that justified intervention. More>>

ALSO:

Drones: New 'World-Class' Framework For UAVs

The rules, which come into effect on 1 August, recognise the changing environment and create a world-class framework that accommodates ongoing development while still ensuring the safety of the public, property and other airspace users. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news