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Addiction Blocker

January 9, 2006

A promising chemical may counteract the brain changes that go hand-in-hand with addiction.


Making the brain forget drugs. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Drug users often get stronger highs from the same dose as addiction sets in. That’s called sensitization, and it’s a suspected cause of cravings and dependency. Tony Phillips, director of the University of British Columbia Institute of Mental Health in Vancouver, says its roots are in the brain.

TONY PHILLIPS (University of British Columbia Institute of Mental Health, Vancouver Canada):
There’s a permanent change in brain structure that is resulted from repeatedly exposing the brain to a drug. And this may be thought of as a memory.

He and his colleagues are experimenting with a protein fragment that counteracts that chemical memory. In a recent animal study, it wiped out three weeks’ worth of sensitization to amphetamines. It’s hoped that in the future, it may help make drug abuse less rewarding for human patients.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.