Skip to comments.Protein regulator shows promise against addiction
Posted on 07/09/2010 7:07:31 PM PDT by neverdem
Elevating a model in rats' brains blunted cocaine use
Little things can make a big difference in the brain. Case in point: A tiny snippet of RNA may help guard cocaine-using rats against addiction to the drug, a new study shows.
The minuscule molecular guard is a hairpin-shaped piece of RNA known as a microRNA. Raising levels of a microRNA called miR-212 in the brains of cocaine-using rats led the animals to take less of the drug than rats with normal microRNA levels, researchers report in the July 8 Nature. Similarly, blocking the microRNAs action increased the rats cocaine use.
If the results hold true in people, researchers may be able to develop new therapies for treating addiction to cocaine and other drugs of abuse. Once you get out of whack, this is something that might help bring you back, says Yale neuroscientist Marina Picciotto, who was not involved in the study.
Its unlikely that the research will lead to gene therapy to raise levels of microRNAs in peoples brains. But small-molecule drugs that mimic the microRNAs action might be helpful.
Just 21 to 23 RNA units long, microRNAs are major regulatory molecules (SN: 3/1/08, p. 136) that govern part of the process by which instructions contained in DNA are transformed into proteins. The molecules generally block protein production. So it was a surprise to find levels of a protein called CREB increase with rising levels of miR-212, says Paul Kenny, a neuroscientist at the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Fla.
CREB has been found to help fight addiction (SN: 5/24/08, p. 14) by decreasing the rewarding experience of taking cocaine, sometimes to the point that...
The researchers are investigating how mir-212 is regulated and whether it is protective against addiction to other drugs, such as nicotine and alcohol.
(Excerpt) Read more at sciencenews.org ...
I’m wary of all medical golden bullets.
Clockwork Orange comes to mind.
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Thanks for the link.