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.
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;http://www.scripps.edu/florida/research/faculty.php?rec_id=8368 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;http://www.med.yale.edu/mdphd/administration/picciotto.htm 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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