Brain imaging and innovative behavioral models have helped to identify candidate medications and therapeutic strategies to combat addiction.  
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Drug Addiction

To combat this significant public health problem, NEPRC scientists have helped to develop new medications to treat addiction and prevent relapse. These multidisciplinary efforts have incorporated molecular, cellular, and behavioral studies with innovative brain imaging techniques. The result is a clearer understanding of the neurobiological basis of drug addiction and relapse and new insights for potential treatment.

For years, scientists have been searching for cellular targets in the brain responsible for the intense craving associated with cocaine addiction. Integrated behavioral and neurochemical studies have helped NEPRC researchers define these targets and evaluate their role in modulating brain chemistry and addictive behavior. Identifying neural targets for cocaine is critical because effective medications to treat addiction will most likely be those that act either directly or indirectly at these sites. Photon emission tomography, or PET, has been critical to monitor these targets and gauge the efficacy of new medications.

NEPRC scientists were among the first to document a functional link between cocaine's addictive properties and its ability to inhibit dopamine reuptake by neurons in the central nervous system. Based on these findings, NEPRC researchers have explored the potential of several classes of dopamine-modulating drugs to counteract cocaine addiction. Complementary research has helped to identify new treatments for "speedball" addiction, an insidious form of polydrug abuse in which cocaine is combined with heroin.

 

 

 
 

 
 
 
             
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