Gene Increases Drug Sensitivity

Gene Increases Drug Sensitivity
Posted by FoM on September 16, 1999 at 08:21:34 PT
Chronic Drug Use Due To Changes In Brain
Source: CBS News
U.S. scientists have come a little closer to understanding cocaine addiction, throwing a lifeline to addicts who fear that even if they do kick the habit a relapse is inevitable. 
Researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine found that repeated use of cocaine triggered the production of a new gene in the brain and that the gene, delta-FosB, stayed in the brain long after cocaine use had stopped. "A cocaine addict is addicted because of the many changes the drug produces in the brain. Some of these changes persist even after years of abstinence," Eric Nestler, professor of psychiatry and neurobiology at Yale, told Reuters. "Our findings help us understand addiction, so that eventually we can better treat it,'' said Nestler, whose research was published in Wednesday's science journal Nature. Nestler and his team found that chronic users of cocaine had high levels of delta-FosB in one area of the brain. "What we showed is that when delta-FosB builds up in this particular nerve cell type, then there is an increased sensitivity to cocaine," Nestler told Reuters. "However good cocaine felt before, it feels better now." With infrequent users of cocaine, delta-FosB is only produced in small amounts. With addicts, it accumulates to a greater extent and becomes a potent biological factor. Addiction to cocaine, or other drugs, is believed to be partly caused by biological changes. "There has been the sense that there is perhaps some kind of switching of the brain. We think delta-FosB may be one part of the switch," Nestler said. He admits research into cocaine addiction is at a very primitive stage but says understanding the part played by delta-FosB could point the way to improved treatment. Understanding the role of delta-FosB in turning a casual user of cocaine into a chronic addict is a step on the way to understanding the biological processes of addiction. Delta-FosB is also produced in the brain by repeated exposure to substances such as heroin, nicotine, alcohol and PCP or angel dust. Nestler and his team used genetically engineered mice and found the animal's responsiveness to cocaine rose dramatically when the delta-FosB gene was turned on in brain regions important for the formation of addiction. But the role of delta-FosB is just one piece in the puzzle that is cocaine addiction. "We know of other genes that do the same thing in different parts of the brain," Nestler said. Nestler said one day it might be possible to neutralize the more persistent neurobiological changes associated with drug addiction. LONDONWednesday, September 15,1999 - 01:27 PM ET Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited Brain Buildup Causes Cocaine Addiction - 9/15/99
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on September 16, 1999 at 22:05:55 PT:
Offenders On Drugs Get Break
Offenders On Drugs Get BreakAddictions overcome, skills gained at Bridges Julie N. Lynem, Chronicle Staff WriterThursday, September 16, 1999 1999 San Francisco Chronicle For years, cocaine and marijuana controlled Redd Game's life. Like many addicts, he sought a high 24 hours a day and often committed thefts to support his habit. His actions landed him in jail about a dozen times, with his last arrest in April. But after his sentencing this summer, the 34-year-old East Palo Alto man was given a choice: jail time or a minimum of 90 days in Bridges, a new county-sponsored program for repeat offenders who are addicts or alcoholics. For once, Game decided to try a different route. The brainchild of the San Mateo County Superior Court, the Probation Department and the Sheriff's Office, Bridges offers drug and alcohol abusers an opportunity to stop the cycle that keeps them coming back to jail. The program opened its doors in Redwood City in early August and was formally introduced by county officials yesterday. ``It's already saved my life,'' said Game, who is in the process of enrolling in trucking school. ``It has taught me how to manage my life. Before, drugs were managing my life.'' So far, 22 people -- five women and 17 men -- have attended the day treatment program, which San Mateo County officials call the first of its kind in California. Bridges participants meet in a room next door to the Women's Jail in Redwood City, and from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. discuss personal issues and learn basic skills such as reading, math and computer use. A local drug and alcohol treatment program, Pyramid Alternatives, assists program members with alcohol and drug treatment free of charge. County officials call it the next step after the county's Drug Court, a program that requires first-time offenders to seek drug and alcohol treatment from county-approved programs. Bridges participants already have been sentenced to 90 days or more in the San Mateo County Jail for crimes such as drug possession, petty theft and drunk driving. Those sentences are modified to the Bridges program. ``Simply warehousing people is not the answer,'' said Sheriff Don Horsley. ``This program shows that the court has compassion for people who come before it. We know social problems can't be dealt with simply by putting people in jail.'' The program targets inmates who are in jail for nonviolent offenses related to drug and alcohol abuse, with some prospective participants identified during special pretrial hearings. Others are chosen after they fail the county's Drug Court program or violate probation. To stay in the program, Bridges members must make their regular court appearances, comply with a curfew, submit to searches without warning and abstain from alcohol and drugs. The group is randomly tested for drugs and alcohol two to three times each week and individuals are required to meet with a judge for periodic reviews. Most Bridges participants start out on house arrest or electronic monitoring when they go home in the evening. As time goes on, the rules are relaxed, depending on the person's progress. The men and women can stay in the program as long as they need to, but county officials said no one should remain in Bridges for more than a year. If participants violate any of the rules, they can be sent back behind bars to serve their jail sentence. No one has tested positive for drugs or alcohol since the program began August 9, officials said yesterday. Game said everyone in the group looks out for one another to make sure they stay on the right track. ``I could have just done the same thing,'' he said. ``But jail was a reality check. I couldn't go into my 35th year knowing that I had a child who knew her dad was a dope addict.'' URL: 1999 San Francisco Chronicle  Page A17 
Doing Time In Re-Hab - The Nation
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on September 16, 1999 at 13:58:59 PT:
NIDA News Release 
 NIDA News Release FOR RELEASE, September 15, 1999 Contact: Beverly JacksonMichelle Muth301-443-6245 Scientists Identify Brain Chemicals Involved in "Switching On" Cocaine Addiction Scientists supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) have identified two chemicals in the brains of mice that appear to play a major role in the addiction process. Their study appears in the September 16 issue of Nature. 
NIDA News Release 
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