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  1. Docta
    Media release from University of Sydney

    A researcher at the University of Sydney has for the first time explained how the increasingly common street drug mephedrone affects the brain, helping to explain why it is potentially such an addictive substance.

    A party drug also known by the street name 'meow meow', mephedrone works like a combination of methamphetamine (crystal meth or ice) and MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy), explains PhD student Craig Motbey.

    He used an advanced technique to trace the effect of mephedrone on brain neurons. "When you look at the pattern of neurons activated by the mephedrone, it is as if the effect of ecstasy and the effect of methamphetamine on the brain's neurons had been laid on top of each other," he said.

    "The findings confirm the anecdotal reports from mephedrone users that the drug combines the euphoric, sociable effects of ecstasy with an addictive hook comparable to drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamine."

    The research, which has been published online in the journal Addiction Biology ahead of print publication, uses a technique called c-Fos, which tracks proteins in the brain that indicate which neurons were activated by mephedrone consumption.

    The brains of rats which were dosed with mephedrone were compared to those that weren't, allowing researchers to detect which neurons were reacting to the drug.

    "Mephedrone is similar to ecstasy but with a strong addictive component. Rats really like this drug, they'll spend hours working to get it," Motbey said.

    Mephedrone is a relatively new recreational drug that has been available in Australia for approximately two years. It is already in widespread use in the UK and Europe, and is one of the so-called designer drug created to circumvent bans on existing drugs.

    Motbey's supervisor and co-author of the paper, Professor Iain McGregor, will lead a project that has just received $386,250 from the National Health and Medical Research Council to study mephedrone's effects on the brain in more detail, including the long term damage to users.

    The work will be done in conjunction with Dr Adam Winstock at the UK National Addiction Centre, London, a leading authority on mephedrone.

    "Mephedrone is one of the new breed of party drugs that are exploding in popularity around the world," said Professor McGregor, head of the University of Sydney's Psychopharmacology Laboratory.

    "The evolution of party drugs is very rapid at present, and the chemistry behind them is often clever and devious. Scientists and health authorities must move urgently to define the psychological and physical dangers these drugs pose to young people."

    University of Sydney PhD student Craig Motbey Friday 28 October 2011


  1. Terrapinzflyer
    I have requested a copy of the research to be uploaded to the archives HERE If anyone has access to it please upload it to the archives and post a link in this thread.

    Meow meow has rats firing

    THE first scientific study of the party drug meow meow shows how the addiction centres in rats' brains ''lit up like crazy'' when they were given it, Australian researchers say.

    While previous research into mephedrone has relied on anecdotes from users, scientists from Sydney University have now studied and mapped the effect of the drug on brain cells. The research has been published online in the journal Addiction Biology.

    PhD student Craig Motbey said experiments on rats confirmed anecdotal evidence that the drug's immediate effect on the brain was similar to a double whammy of ecstasy and methamphetamine, also known as ice.

    Advertisement: Story continues below
    ''The pattern of the brain cells being turned on by the drug appeared as if the patterns you see with ecstasy and methamphetamines were overlapped,'' he said. ''The part of the brain related to addiction was lit up like crazy.''

    A major concern about the drug was its highly addictive nature and that users tended to go on uncontrollable binges, Mr Motbey said.

    ''People might buy what they think is a two-month supply and burn through it all in one weekend. The rats really like this drug. They'll spend hours trying to get at it.''

    Mr Motbey said it was too early to assess with certainty just how dangerous it could be. ''People taking it are really turning themselves into lab rats.''

    October 28, 2011
    Only found this Abstract. The full research Article has to be purchased to gain online access for a 24-hour period.

    Mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone, ‘meow’): acute behavioural effects and distribution of Fos expression in adolescent rats

    Abstract (excerpt):

    Anecdotal and case study reports indicate that mephedrone may have the potential to engender compulsive patterns of use as well as toxicity in overdose. However, there have been almost no neuropharmacological investigations of the drug up to this point.
    Here we examined the effects of two different mephedrone doses [15 and 30 mg/kg, intraperitoneal (IP)] relative to the well-known stimulant methamphetamine (2 mg/kg IP) in adolescent rats. Rats were injected, assessed for locomotor activity for 60 minutes and then tested in a 10-minute social preference test (measuring time spent in close proximity to a real rat versus a dummy rat).
    Their brains were then processed using Fos immunohistochemistry to determine patterns of brain activation. Results showed that mephedrone caused profound locomotor hyperactivity at both dose levels while tending to reduce social preference. Patterns of Fos expression with mephedrone resembled a combination of those observed with methamphetamine and MDMA, with particularly strong Fos expression in the cortex, dorsal and ventral striatum, ventral tegmental area (typical of both MDMA and methamphetamine) and supraoptic nucleus (typical of MDMA).
    These results demonstrate for the first time the powerful stimulant effects of mephedrone in animal models and its capacity to activate mesolimbic regions. These results also provide some empirical basis to user reports that mephedrone subjectively resembles a MDMA/methamphetamine hybrid.

    Source:Wiley Online Library
  3. straycat312
    How is this news? I thought mephedrone's action on the brain was already well-established. Is this just the first official explanation?
  4. Synesthesiac
    Good article, surprised I missed it.

    No. The only really reliable studies into it have only been published over the last year or so. Over two years ago its effects on brain chemistry was not much more than educated guesswork. This is indeed a media slanted article, but based on what looks like a perfectly respectable scientific study.

    Would really like to see the full journal article if it has been uploaded yet.

    Here are two examples of other recent studies that seem quite similar:

    Mephedrone, compared to MDMA (ecstasy) and amphetamine, rapidly increases both dopamine and serotonin levels in nucleus accumbens of awake rats
    British Journal of Pharmacology (Accepted Article draft paper)

    4-Methylmethcathinone(mephedrone): neuropharmacological effects of a designer stimulant of abuse (2011)
    J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2011 Aug 2. [Epub ahead of print]

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