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Cocaine-resistant Mice

January 2, 2008

Mice lacking a single receptor in the brain don’t become dependent on cocaine.


Derailing drug addiction. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Recreational drugs such as cocaine cause their high by flooding the pleasure center of the brain with the neuro-chemical dopamine. Dopamine works by binding to special receptors located on neurons. It turns out that mice have the same five dopamine receptors that humans do. And now scientists have bred a strain of mice that lack just one of those five receptors. Psychologist Barak Caine of Harvard Medical School led the study.

BARAK CAINE (Harvard Medical School):
We’ve had mice that would press a lever thousands of times in the course of an hour to get cocaine. These mutant mice, they just won’t press the lever to get cocaine, even once.

He says understanding the dopamine D1 receptor could contribute to the development of drugs to treat cocaine addiction in the future. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.