MicroRNA May Suppress Cocaine-Seeking Behavior

microRNA Currently there are very many people who are tripped in the use of drugs of abuse despite their life threatening effects. Drug addiction is a jail that many addicts find hard to evade. It is important to note that addicts do not use the drugs they abuse because they like using them, the honest truth however is that most addicts have tried to stop using their drugs of choice but they can’t just fight against their own craving. The cravings for drugs like cocaine that are known for their euphoric effects are one of the challenges that addicts face.

Typically, a person will use the drug once as an escapade to all the stress that he may be exposed to or as a result of mere curiosity having been misled by their peers that using cocaine is cool as they say it. However after getting the euphoric effects one is bound to go for more of this drug and this in the long run may result to cocaine addiction and even dependence. It has never been easy quitting the use of cocaine and many people even after going to rehab centers will still for the drug when exposed to triggers after they come back from the rehabs. It is this cocaine seeking behavior that is adopted by the addicts that makes it hard for them to quit. If this cocaine seeking behavior can be reduced then a person may win the fight against cocaine addiction easily.

The recent discovery by scientists that a minute snippet of genetic material called microRNA may suppress cocaine-seeking behavior presents hope to the medical fraternity as well as cocaine addicts. As a known fact the use of cocaine will cause both structural and functional alterations to the brains’ reward system. These changes cause a drift in the behavior of the users of cocaine. Through experiments and lab tests it has been found that these alterations results in increased drug-seeking behavior in both humans and rats. The desire to use cocaine become uncontainable hence overindulgence in drug use.

Just like with any other drugs of leisure, long-term use of cocaine will result in reduced response to the effects of cocaine which will force the user to use more of cocaine so as to achieve the sought euphoric feeling. After a long time of use of this drug the response will be lessened again and this will reduce the motivation of a user to continue using the drug. Researchers suspect that these differing influences may be why only about 15% of cocaine users ultimately lose control and compulsively seek the drug.

MicroRNAs are small pieces of RNA that don’t code for proteins but they regulate how much of a protein is made instead. Over the past decade, microRNAs have been linked to various cancers, degenerative disorders and other conditions. It was until recently that the contribution of these tiny molecules to drug use and addiction were brought under scrutiny.

Paul J. Kenny led study

In a research team that was led by Dr. Paul J. Kenny of the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida, the team decided to explore how brain levels of specific microRNAs change when rats have extended or limited access to cocaine. The study was funded by NIH‘s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

In the issue of Nature published on July 8, 2010, the scientists reported that rats given 6 hours of extended access to cocaine each day had markedly increased levels of a molecule called microRNA-212 in a particular brain region. The levels were nearly double those in rats with access to cocaine for an hour or less daily. The brain region, called the dorsal striatum, helps to regulate the development of habit formation.

After this discovery the researchers next tested the effects of elevated microRNA-212. The Researchers used a genetically altered virus to boost microRNA-212 expression in the dorsal striatum. A control group received an “empty” virus. When given extended access to cocaine, both groups predictably escalated their intake. But over time, cocaine intake plummeted in the rats with elevated microRNA-212. Cocaine consumption in this group continued to drop even as their exposure to the drug increased. Their cocaine intake became so low that they seemed to have a growing dislike for the drug.

MicroRNATo contrast the effects of this microRNA-212 in the brain, the researchers blocked the action of microRNA-212 in the brain and this led to sharp increase in cocaine intake and the rats began to self-administer the drug at exaggerated rates, similar to compulsive drug users. These results suggest that microRNA-212 may play an important role in preventing out-of-control drug use.

“The results of this study offer promise for the development of a totally new class of anti-addiction medications,” says Kenny. “Because we are beginning to map out how this specific microRNA works, we may be able to develop new compounds to manipulate the levels of microRNA-212 therapeutically with exquisite specificity, opening the possibility of new treatments for drug addiction.”

the fact that Cocaine consumption in the group of rate with elevated microRNA-212 continued to drop even as their exposure to the drug increased is a clear indication that that this minute component of genetic material may be used to quell the craving for cocaine in cocaine users. Dr. Dalal Akoury of AWAREmed Health and Wellness Center has dedicated her life to helping addicts restore their lives by use of integrative medicine. Call her on (843) 213-1480 for help.

MicroRNA May Suppress Cocaine-Seeking Behavior