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

 

Budget Policy Statement: Spending Wins Over Tax Cuts; Big Ticket Items Get Boost

Income tax cuts are on hold as the government says “responding to the earthquakes and reducing debt are currently of higher priority”, although election year tax sweeteners remain possible. More>>

ALSO:

Fishy: Is Whitebaiting Sustainable?

The whitebait fry - considered a delicacy by many - are the juveniles of five species of galaxiid, four of which are considered threatened or declining. The SMC asked freshwater experts for their views on the sustainability of the whitebait fishery and whether we're doing enough to monitor the five species of galaxiid that make up whitebait. More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: Smaller-Than-Expected Four-Month Deficit

The New Zealand government's accounts recorded a smaller-than-forecast deficit in the first four months of the fiscal year on a higher-than-expected inflow of corporate and goods and services tax. More>>

ALSO:

On For Christmas: KiwiRail Ferries Back In Full Operation After Quake

KiwiRail’s Interislander ferries are back in full operation for the first time since the Kaikoura earthquake, with the railspan that allows rail wagons to be loaded on the Aratere now restored. More>>

ALSO:

Comerce Commission Investigation: Prosecutions Over Steel Mesh Labelling

Steel & Tube Holdings, along with two other companies, will be prosecuted by the Commerce Commission following the regulator's investigation into seismic steel mesh, while Fletcher Building's steel division has been given a warning. More>>

ALSO:

Wine: 20% Of Marlborough Storage Tanks Damaged By Quake

An estimated 20 percent of wine storage tanks in the Marlborough region, the country’s largest wine producing area, have been damaged by the impact of the recent Kaikoura earthquake. More>>

ALSO:

ACC: Levy Recommendations For 2017 – 2019 Period

• For car owners, a 13% reduction in the average Motor Vehicle levy • For businesses, a 10% reduction in the average Work levy, and changes to workplace safety incentive products • For employees, due to an increase in claims volumes and costs, a 3% increase in the Earners’ levy. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news