Vexen Crabtree (vexen) wrote,
Vexen Crabtree

Heroin addiction gene identified and blocked

I am excited about this one...:

"Scientists have not only identified a critical gene involved in heroin addiction relapse, but they have also successfully blocked it, eliminating cravings for the drug. [...]

“Many people try to stop taking heroin, but in a few months almost all of them go back to using the drug,” said Ivan Diamond, at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center in California, US, and one of the research team. [...]

Previous research has indicated that a section of the midbrain called the nucleus accumbens plays a central role in the “mental reward circuitry” of animals, such as rats and humans. This circuitry generates feelings of pleasure in response to drugs, as well as in response to other things, including food, sex and, in humans, work accomplishments.

Drugs like heroin, however, seem to over-stimulate the normal reward process to the point where users value their next fix more highly than food, water and other essentials. In 2004, a study revealed that cocaine causes a gene in the nucleus accumbens, called AGS3, to rapidly encode masses of proteins that are involved in the cravings and pleasure associated with the drug. [...]

An AGS3 blocker was then created from a herpes virus. This [...] blocks the cravings-pleasure cycle until the virus “washes out” of the body a few weeks later. [...]

Diamond told New Scientist that a related treatment could become available to humans within the next couple of years."

The amount of problems heroin addiction causes in the West is massive; people in my job sometimes get involved in gunfights with land drug traffickers and cultivators. The violence and crime, fuelled by money and profit, would be dealt a severe blow if heroin addiction became easily curable. Cure would rapidly become part of the routine for the detention of such drug addicts and prisoners, etc. People might actually self-administer the cure and a healthy cycle of escape could become socially acceptable amongst users! Hopefully the trade in cure will make some money and become an export to heroin-producing countries!
Tags: drug addiction, drugs, heroin, medicine
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