November 25, 2005

Researchers find way to block drug cravings

It was announced in the November 25th issue of the journal Science that a team of researchers at the University of B.C. has found a way to block the communication between brain cells that triggers drug cravings, a finding that could lead to new therapies to treat addiction and relapse as well as behaviours associated with schizophrenia.

Senior UBC investigators Dr. Anthony Phillips and Dr. Yu Tian Wang have created a peptide -- protein fragment -- that in animal models can block specific chemical messengers that remember the body's response to stimulant drugs, such as amphetamines.

According to the research, when chemical communication is disrupted, the brain "forgets" the previous drug experience and cravings, or impulse to renew the drug sensation, are reduced or eliminated. Exchange of chemical messages within the brain is called synaptic function. The UBC research shows, for the first time, the mechanism of synaptic function related to memory. The findings are published in the Nov. 25 issue of Science.

Source: Nucleus Accumbens Long-Term Depression and the Expression of Behavioral Sensitization


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