New Technology Could Help Addicts Suppress Memories And Avoid Relapsing

An experimental gene therapy could use viruses to treat addicts struggling to avoid a relapse. In a Journal of Neuroscience study, Medical University of South Carolina researchers used the viruses to insert a special gene that made receptors grow on neurons’ surfaces that respond only to a single designer drug. The technology is called “designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs,” or DREADDs, and it seeks to use the designer drug to help suppress a person’s desire to use cocaine coming from “drug cues.” Those cues are stimuli that are linked to memories of the environment in which the person took the drugs or the apparatus used — memories which have been associated with the pleasurable flood of dopamine from taking the drug. The purpose of the study was to use the technology…


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