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[ Specific Protein Triggers Changes In Neurons In Brain Reward Center Linked To Cocaine Addiction ]

Specific Protein Triggers Changes In Neurons In Brain Reward Center Linked To Cocaine Addiction

New research from Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York reveals that repeated exposure to cocaine decreases the activity of a protein necessary for normal functioning of the brain's reward system, thus enhancing the reward for cocaine use, which leads to addiction. Investigators were also able to block the ability of repeated cocaine exposure, to induce addiction. The findings, published online in the journal Nature Neuroscience, provide the first evidence of how cocaine changes the shape and size of neuron rewards in a mouse model. Repeated exposure to cocaine decreases the expression of a protein necessary for normal functioning of the brain's reward system, thus enhancing the reward for cocaine use and stimulating addiction. Using the protein's light-activated form in real time, in a technique known as optogenetics, investigators were also able to block repeated cocaine exposure from enhancing the brain's reward center from cocaine.

Scientists Develop Antidote For Cocaine Overdose

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have shown that an injectable solution can protect mice from an otherwise lethal overdose of cocaine. The findings could lead to human clinical trials of a treatment designed to reverse the effects of cocaine in case of emergency. Cocaine is involved in more than 400, 000 emergency-room visits and about 5, 000 overdose deaths each year in the United States. The findings, reported recently in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, demonstrate the therapeutic potential of a human antibody against cocaine. "This would be the first specific antidote for cocaine toxicity, " said Kim Janda, PhD, senior author of the report. A pioneer in the field of vaccines against drugs of abuse, Janda is the Ely R. Callaway, Jr. Chair in Chemistry, a professor in the Department of Immunology and Microbial Science, and director of The Worm Institute for Research and Medicine, all at Scripps Research.

Association Between Moderate Alcohol Consumption Before And After Heart Attack And Lower Mortality

The Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) is a prospective cohort study of 51, 529 US male health professionals. During the follow up of these men between 1986 to 2006, published in the European Heart Journal, 1, 818 men were confirmed with incident non-fatal myocardial infarction (MI) - a non fatal heart attack. Among heart attack survivors, 468 deaths were documented during up to 20 years of follow up. Repeated reports were obtained on alcohol consumption every four years. Average alcohol consumption was calculated prior to and then following the MI. The overall results show that, in comparison with no alcohol consumption, the pre-MI and the post-MI intakes of light (0.1-9.9 g/day of alcohol, or up to one small typical drink) and moderate (10.0-29.9 g/d, or up to about 2 to 3 drinks) amounts of alcohol were both associated with lower risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular morality among these men.

Opium Significantly Raises Mortality

According to a study published in BMJ (British Medical Journal), individuals who use opium for long periods of time, even in relatively low doses, are more than twice as likely to die from several major causes including cancer, circulatory diseases and respiratory conditions. Results from the study, conducted in northern Iran, raise questions regarding the risks of long term prescription opioids for chronic pain treatment. Opium consumption is extremely common in Iran and approximately 20 million individuals worldwide use opium or its derivatives. This study is the first to measure the risks of mortality in opium users vs.non-users. Prior investigations indicate that opium may play a role in coronary heart disease, throat cancer, bladder cancer and other conditions. However, researchers are unsure about the effects opium has on overall mortality, particularly for low-doses used over a long period.

Having A Minimum Price For Alcohol Impacts On Abuse

According to a report published in BMJ (British Medical Journal), alcohol consumption, hospitalizations, and deaths will be considerably reduced as a result of UK Government plans to impose a minimum price of 40p per unit of alcohol. John Appleby, Chief Economist at the King's Fund, states that the plans will reduce alcohol consumption by 2.4%, prevent 38, 900 hospitalizations and result in a 1, 149 reduction in deaths. In addition, he notes that these effects would more than double by introducing a 50p minimum price, and that an economic recession has even greater "sobering" effects. In order to determine the demand for alcohol, price and disposable income are vital. Between 1964 and 2004, spending on alcohol in the UK has increased over two fold. The researchers note that these factors can be used to form the basis of an alcohol "affordability index.

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