Protein regulator shows promise against addiction | Science News

SUPPORT SCIENCE NEWS

Science News is a nonprofit.

Help us keep you informed.


News

Protein regulator shows promise against addiction

Elevating a model in rats' brains blunted cocaine use

By
12:36pm, July 7, 2010

Little things can make a big difference in the brain. Case in point: A tiny snippet of RNA may help guard cocaine-using rats against addiction to the drug, a new study shows.

The minuscule molecular guard is a hairpin-shaped piece of RNA known as a microRNA. Raising levels of a microRNA called miR-212 in the brains of cocaine-using rats led the animals to take less of the drug than rats with normal microRNA levels, researchers report in the July 8 Nature. Similarly, blocking the microRNA’s action increased the rats’ cocaine use.

If the results hold true in people, researchers may be able to develop new therapies for treating addiction to cocaine and other drugs of abuse. “Once you get out of whack, this is something that might help bring you back,” says Yale neuroscientist Marina Picciotto, who was not involved in the study.

It’s unlikely that the research will lead to gene therapy to raise levels of microRNAs

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from this issue of Science News

[title_1]
From the Nature Index Paid Content