Nicotine sensitizes the mouse brain to the addictive effects of cocaine, according to recent NIDA-supported research. The results accord with the hypothesis that a person’s initial use of an addictive substance physiologically sensitizes his or her brain to the rewarding and addictive effects of other substances. If the findings carry over to people, then preventing youths from smoking might reduce their vulnerability to cocaine abuse and addiction, and cocaine-dependent individuals might ease their path to recovery by quitting smoking.
March 2012 Dr. Thomas Kosten of Baylor College of Medicine and Dr. Peter Burkhard of the University of Connecticut are the recipients of NIDA’s 2011 Avant-Garde Awards for Innovative Medication Development Research. Dr. Kosten is developing a vaccine against methamphetamine abuse and Dr. Burkhard is developing a vaccine to counter nicotine addiction.