London: Repeated exposure to cocaine reduces the activity of a protein essential for normal functioning of the brain`s reward system, thus enhancing the reward for cocaine use and stimulating addiction, a new study has revealed.The findings by researchers from Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York provide the first evidence of how cocaine changes the shape and size of neuron rewards in a mouse model.Using the protein`s light-activated form in real time, in a technique known as optogenetics, investigators were also able to block repeated cocaine exposure from enhancing the brain`s reward centre from cocaine.Even though the results are very early and many steps will be important in moving from mice to humans, the researchers say that the finding opens the door to a new direction for treatment for cocaine addiction.“There are virtually no medication regimens for cocaine addiction, only psychotherapy, and some early work with vaccines,” said the study``s senior investigator, Eric Nestler, MD, PhD, Nash Family Professor of Neuroscience, Chairman of the Neuroscience and Director of the Friedman Brain Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
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