Designer brain receptors used in preclinical study to suppress cued cocaine seeking

A pile of cocaine hydrochloride. Credit: DEA Drug Enforcement Agency, public domain Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) have used viruses to infect neurons with genes that allow them to switch on brain receptors involved in suppressing addiction relapse. Results of these preclinical studies were published in the September 28th, 2016 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. The technology, called designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs, or DREADDs, is one of the most promising gene therapies for the future treatment of addiction in humans. The brains of people who use cocaine become hijacked by drug cues. Powerful memories are formed between these cues-such as the using environment and drug paraphernalia-and the dopamine flood that occurs from using the drug itself. In users trying to quit, these…


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