Breakthrough research sheds light on cocaine addiction

January 14th, 2015

This article is more than 8 years old.

Danish team behind dopamine transporter findings

Danish researchers have made a breakthrough that could be used in the effort to develop a drug to treat cocaine addiction.

Claus Juul Løland, an associate professor at the department of neuroscience and pharmacology at Copenhagen University, explained in a press release that the research gave new insight into the mechanism behind a protein dopamine transporter.

“If we have a better understanding of the dopamine transporter function, we will become more proficient in developing an antidote against cocaine addiction,” he said.

Could make cocaine ineffective
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that gives us the sensation of reward and motivation and is key to the phenomenon of addiction.

The dopamine transporter controls how the neurotransmitter signals to the nerves. The researchers have discovered an interaction, a so-called gate, which controls the binding of dopamine to the transporter.

“We found two amino acids in the proteins that dynamically break and form an interaction. The dynamic is therefore crucial for the transport process,” Løland said.

According to Løland, a possible future treatment for cocaine addiction might involve using this knowledge of the dopamine transmitter gate to prevent cocaine from producing its stimulatory response.

“Our objective here is that cocaine will not then work anymore as the antidote will inhibit the stimulatory response of taking this drug,” he explained.

The research is published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.


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