New Neuroscience Findings to Help Improve Drug Treatment for Addiction

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BrainScripps Research Institute scientists recently published findings that could allow for the future development of more effective drugs for the treatment of addiction.

The results of the studies demonstrated that one active compound – known as 6’-GNTI – maintains a strong bias towards a single biological pathway, which is a huge step towards finding an addiction treatment medication without numerous negative side effects. 6’-GNTI specifically targets the kappa opioid receptor found on nerve cells (KOR) which has an essential role in the release of dopamine.

Dopamine, it’s long been known, is a key player in drug addiction. Addictive drugs themselves will cause the release of a flood of dopamine, reinforcing the addictive cycle and igniting the reward and pleasure system of the brain. KOR has been the focus for research and studies on possible medication to treat mood disorders and drug addiction. The key has been to narrow down the many different biological pathways that send out signals to KOR. Until now, every drug targeting KOR has produced a wide variety of unwanted side effects.

That’s where the Scripps study comes in. Utilizing nerve cells found in the striatum (an area of the brain involved in motor activity) scientists were able to find a spot on the KOR signaling pathway that proved to be an important indicating factor as to whether or not the brains of addicts will react similarly to a medication as they did to the drug of their addiction.

Further study on KOR and the 6’-GNTI compound will be important in the fight to develop more effective and less dangerous addiction treatment methods.

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