In a recent article, we talked about how researchers had discovered a protein which stayed in cocaine users’ biofluids up to months at a time. This not only meant that abusers could very well find themselves on the backend of the “job hunting” line, but that the effects (long-term and otherwise) could be monitored much more closely over a longer period of time. Luckily, researchers on the Cocaine front have been on a roll, and may have uncovered a way to remove cravings the illicit drug from users in withdrawal completely.
According to a recently released article on Science Daily’s website:
“When an individual uses cocaine, some immature synapses are generated, which are called ‘silent synapses’ because they send few signals under normal physiological conditions. After that individual quits using cocaine, these ‘silent synapses’ go through a maturation phase and acquire the ability to send signals. Once they can send signals, the synapses will send craving signals for cocaine if the individual is exposed to cues that previously led him or her to use the drug.
The researchers hypothesized that if they could reverse the maturation of the synapses, the synapses would remain silent, thus rendering them unable to send craving signals. They examined a chemical receptor known as CP-AMPAR that is essential for the maturation of the synapses. In their experiments, the synapses reverted to their silent states when the receptor was removed.”
Yan Dong, Pitt neuroscience professor and the study’s corresponding author, as well as assistant professor of neuroscience in Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, says her team is now in the process of developing strategies to maintain these “reversal” effects.
What do you think?