The brain appears to contain molecular elements that can protect it from drug addiction -- specifically, small non-coding RNAs that inhibit the development of addiction in rats exposed to cocaine, according to a study published this week in Nature.
Image: Wikimedia commons,
Specifically, one particular microRNA (miRNA) "seems to actively decrease the motivation of the animal to take the drug," said behavioral neuroscientist and study author linkurl:Paul Kenny; of The Scripps Research Institute in Florida. "This is the first molecular adaptation that leads to decreased drug intake" in animals that have prolonged and repeated exposure to a drug, said neuroscientist linkurl:Marina Picciotto; of Yale University, who was not involved in the research. "This is a mechanism that has presumably evolved to keep the intracellular signaling pretty normal even in the face of stressors that change [the environmental conditions] pretty dramatically," such as drug abuse, added Picciotto, who wrote...
J.A. Hollander, et al., "Striatal microRNA controls cocaine intake through CREB signalling," Nature 466:197-202, 2010.

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