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Drug could stop marijuana cravings

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Posted October 15, 2013
Marijuana
In the US, more people seek treatment for marijuana abuse than for abuse of cocaine or heroin. However, there are no approved treatments for marijuana addiction. Robert Schwarcz of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and his colleagues, including a group from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, have found a drug that appears to decrease the pleasurable effects of THC, marijuana’s active ingredient, and could therefore prevent a psychological addiction to marijuana. The research appears in Nature Neuroscience.

THC produces a feeling of pleasure by increasing dopamine levels in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the shell of the nucleus accumbens (NAc). The researchers reasoned that if marijuana users took a drug that reduced dopamine activity in those regions of the brain, they would no longer experience a sense of euphoria when taking marijuana. Therefore, their marijuana usage would decrease.

Schwarz and his team gave rats the drug Ro 61-8048, which increases the brain’s level of kynurenic acid (KYNA), a byproduct of the breakdown of tryptophan, an amino acid found in turkey and other foods. The researchers found that Ro 61-8048 increased levels of KYNA in the VTA and NAc shell and reduced the ability of THC or WIN 55,212-2, a synthetic THC substitute, to stimulate dopamine production in these regions. KYNA appears to block dopamine receptors.

Read more at: MedicalXpress

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