Washington: Scientists have discovered a molecular process in the brain triggered by cocaine use that could provide a target for treatments to prevent or reverse addiction to the drug.Michigan State University neuroscientist A J Robison and colleagues explained that cocaine alters the nucleus accumbens, the brain`s pleasure center that responds to stimuli such as food, sex and drugs."Understanding what happens molecularly to this brain region during long-term exposure to drugs might give us insight into how addiction occurs," said Robison.The researchers found that cocaine causes cells in the nucleus accumbens to boost production of two proteins, one associated with addiction and the other related to learning.The proteins have a reciprocal relationship; they increase each other`s production and stability in the cells, so the result is a snowball effect that Robison calls a feed-forward loop.
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