NEW YORK (Jan. 4, 2011) — Researchers have produced a lasting anti-cocaine immunity in mice by giving them a safe vaccine that combines bits of the common cold virus with a particle that mimics cocaine.
In their study, published Jan. 4 …
New research results strongly suggest that cocaine bites the hand that feeds it, in essence, by harming or even killing the very brain cells that trigger the “high” that cocaine users feel. This most comprehensive description yet of cocaine-induced damage to key cells in the human brain’s dopamine “pleasure center” may help explain many aspects of cocaine addiction, and perhaps aid the development of anti-addiction drugs. It also could help scientists understand other disorders involving the same brain cells, including depression.
New understanding of the changes in brain chemistry caused by chronic cocaine use has suggested a novel treatment that could reduce the intense craving that forms the core of cocaine addiction. “Our studies show that administration of an existing drug ? n-acetyl cysteine, which is used to treat cystic fibrosis and several other disorders ? reverses the changes in brain chemistry that appear to cause cocaine craving,” said David A. Baker, a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Peter W. Kalivas at the Medical University of South Carolina.