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Team advances therapy preventing addiction relapse by erasing drug-associated memorie

  1. RoboCodeine7610
    23987.jpg
    Recovering addicts often grapple with the ghosts of their addiction--memories that tempt them to relapse even after rehabilitation and months, or even years, of drug-free living. Now, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have made a discovery that brings them closer to a new therapy based on selectively erasing these dangerous and tenacious drug-associated memories.

    "We now have a viable target and by blocking that target, we can disrupt, and potentially erase, drug memories, leaving other memories intact," said TSRI Associate Professor Courtney Miller. "The hope is that, when combined with traditional rehabilitation and abstinence therapies, we can reduce or eliminate relapse for meth users after a single treatment by taking away the power of an individual's triggers."

    The new study, published this week online ahead of print by the journal Molecular Psychiatry, demonstrates the effectiveness of a single injection of an early drug candidate called blebbistatin in preventing relapse in animal models of methamphetamine addiction.

    The new study builds on previous work in Miller's lab. In 2013, the team made the surprising discovery that drug-associated memories could be selectively erased by targeting actin, the protein that provides the structural scaffold supporting memories in the brain. However, the therapeutic potential of the finding seemed limited by the problem that actin is critically important throughout the body--taking a pill that generally inhibits actin, even once, would likely be fatal.

    In the new study, Miller and her colleagues report a major advance--the discovery of a safe route to selectively targeting brain actin through nonmuscle myosin II (NMII), a molecular motor that supports memory formation. To accomplish this, the researchers used a compound called blebbistatin that acts on this protein.

    The results showed that a single injection of blebbistatin successfully disrupted long-term storage of drug-related memories--and blocked relapse for at least a month in animal models of methamphetamine addiction.

    "What makes myosin II such an exciting therapeutic target is that a single injection of blebbistatin makes methamphetamine-associated memories go away, along with dendritic spines, the structures in the brain that store memory," said Research Associate Erica Young, a member of the Miller lab and a key author of the new study, along with Research Associates Ashley M. Blouin and Sherri B. Briggs.

    Blouin added, "Drugs targeting actin usually have to be delivered directly into the brain. But blebbistatin reaches the brain even when injected into the body's periphery and, importantly, the animals remained healthy."

    Moreover, the effect of this novel treatment approach was specific to drug-associated memories (not affecting other memories), and the animals were still able to form new recollections.

    "Our results argue for developing small molecule inhibitors of nonmuscle myosin II as potential therapeutics for relapse prevention, and that's exactly what we're doing with our colleagues here at Scripps with expertise in drug development," said Briggs.

    Scripps Research Institute.
    ScienceDaily, 4 August 2015.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150804160842.htm

Comments

  1. 5-HT2A
    Single Injection Can Erase Memories Associated With Meth Use, Scientists Claim

    [IMGR="WHITE"]https://drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=45463&stc=1&d=1439050936[/IMGR]One dose of an experimental medicine could wipe pleasant memories and associations of a drug high, and make an addict indifferent to temptations, claim US scientists in a groundbreaking piece of research.

    “A high rate of relapse is a defining characteristic of substance use disorder for which few treatments are available. Exposure to environmental cues associated with previous drug use can elicit relapse by causing the involuntary retrieval of deeply ingrained associative memories that trigger a strong motivation to seek out drugs,” say authors from the Scripps Research Institute in a paper to be published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry later this month.

    “Our lab is focused on identifying and disrupting mechanisms that support these powerful consolidated memories, with the goal of developing therapeutics. We now have a viable target and by blocking that target, we can disrupt, and potentially erase, drug memories, leaving other memories intact,” said Professor Courtney Miller, a key author of the study.

    The research is a follow-up to an unexpected discovery two years ago. In 2013, scientists from the leading Florida-based lab realized that if they blocked actin, a chemical used in creating memories, methamphetamine-addicted rats would lose all interest in the drug. The researchers say that the rodents retained interest in food, and all other normal behaviors, and from this deduced that other parts of their memories and cognitive functions were unaffected by the radical treatment.

    There was one problem: Actin is a key protein used in many bodily functions, and impairing its work, even for a short time, would be fatal.

    Now, the same lab appears to have found a solution – blebbistatin, a drug that hampers actin function in just the brain, without affecting the rest of the body. Furthermore, a single ordinary injection of the medicine, prevented the test rats from relapsing into their addiction for a whole month.

    Drugs targeting actin usually have to be delivered directly into the brain. But blebbistatin reaches the brain even when injected into the body’s periphery and, importantly, the animals remained healthy,” added Ashley M. Blouin, one of the members of the lab team.

    While, if effective, the treatment would represent a revolution in drug addiction, there are many unknowns, and potential ethical quandaries.

    The authors themselves admit they do not understand what exactly makes the drug memories different to others, though they speculate there may be a connection to dopamine, a chemical delivered into the brain when we feel pleasure, and a sense of reward.

    If this is the case, tampering with those mechanisms not in rats, but in humans could produce much more wide-ranging effects than simply curing them of drug addiction, and could fundamentally alter the psyche of a human subjected to the injections.

    But the team at Scripps, which counts several Nobel Prize winners among its faculty, is optimistic about its innovation.

    “The hope is that, when combined with traditional rehabilitation and abstinence therapies, we can reduce or eliminate relapse for meth users after a single treatment by taking away the power of an individual’s triggers,” said Miller.

    Professor Miller earlier said the team’s research opens the path to tackling other harmful associative memories and environmental cue responses, such as those experienced by smokers, and sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder.

    August 7, 2015

    Source:
    http://www.rt.com/news/311890-drugs-brain-memories-scripps/
  2. redwhiteandblue
    Re: Single Injection Can Erase Memories Associated With Meth Use, Scientists Claim

    Wow. That's incredible. Sounds too good to be true, so it probably is.

    An interesting read and hopefully leads to some form of new treatment.
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