Photo: David Lee/REX USA.
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, approximately 1.4 million people are addicted to, or abuse, cocaine in the U.S. But, new research shows that cocaine addiction may become a more manageable problem in the near future. Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at New York City's Mount Sinai have identified an important piece in the puzzle of how the brain processes cocaine addiction.
There's a specific, enzyme-regulated brain function that helps lead to addiction after consuming cocaine. Regular cocaine use increases levels of the PARP-1 enzyme, and this increase aids in causing addiction. The research team, who was studying cocaine addiction in mice, also discovered a target gene, sidekick-1, that contributes to the brain's addictive process. Now that they understand the chain of events that leads to addiction, they can work to create a new molecular mechanism that alters the brain's reward system, thus helping to thwart addictive processes altogether.
With this information, researchers may now be able to identify other proteins regulated by cocaine as well as develop PARP-1 inhibitors. Though an easier method of treating cocaine addiction doesn't solve America's overwhelming drug problem, it does make recovery a more realistic goal for those afflicted. (Bustle)