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NIDA Notes Articles: Addiction Science

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Gene Variants Reduce Opioid Risks

June 2014
Two recent studies suggest that genotyping may enable clinicians to base therapies on individual patients’ potential responsiveness to opioid drugs’ therapeutic effects and vulnerability to their harmful effects.

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New Insight Into How Cues Cause Relapse to Cocaine

May 2014
A brain response occurs in the nucleus accumbens when rats encounter a cue that they associate with previous cocaine self-administration, but not a cue associated with a pleasurable non-drug experience. Moreover, the response correlates in time and intensity with the animals’ cue-induced relapse to cocaine-seeking.

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Dr. Joni Rutter Q&A: How Basic Science Is Tackling Addiction

May 2014
One of NIDA’s goals is to try to understand the individual differences that contribute to whether or not someone who takes a drug will become addicted to it. Dr. Rutter’s research focuses on three types of differences: Environmental, developmental, and genetic and epigenetic.

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Methamphetamine Alters Brain Structures, Impairs Mental Flexibility

March 2014
Methamphetamine alters brain structures involved in decision-making and impairs the ability to suppress habitual behaviors that have become useless or counterproductive. The two effects were correlated, indicating that the structural change underlies the decline in mental flexibility.

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Stress-Induced Enzyme Compounds Methamphetamine Neurotoxicity

January 2014
Ketoprofen, an anti-inflammatory agent commonly prescribed to treat arthritis, reduces neuronal damage in rats that have been exposed to chronic stress and methamphetamine. If this finding of a recent NIDA-supported study extrapolates to humans, anti-inflammatory medications may gain a place in the treatment of methamphetamine addiction.

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Prefrontal Cortex Stimulation Stops Compulsive Drug Seeking in Rats

January 2014
Researchers have shut down laboratory rats’ compulsive cocaine seeking by stimulating an area of the animals’ prefrontal cortex. The finding raises the possibility that stimulating neurons in this brain area may weaken or break cocaine’s grip on the behavior of people who are addicted to the drug.

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Dr. Evan D. Kharasch Joins the Institute of Medicine

December 2013
Dr. Kharasch is a NIDA-funded researcher known for a broad range of research into how drugs are metabolized in the body.

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Study Finds Genetic Influence on African Americans’ Smoking

November 2013
A meta-analysis of 13 genome-wide association studies of African Americans’ smoking patterns confirms the significance of genetic variation in region 15q25.1. The analysis also tentatively implicates several genome locations that have not previously been associated with smoking behaviors.

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Dr. Marilyn Huestis Q & A: Matching Drug Effects to Drug Concentrations

September 2013
Dr. Marilyn Huestis of NIDA’s Intramural Research Program talks about conducting research on drug effects with human subjects, developing tests to help law enforcement identify drugged drivers, and an assay to help identify children whose prenatal exposure to anti-HIV drugs may put them at risk for adverse developmental outcomes.

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Stimulants in “Bath Salts” Produce Effects Similar to MDMA

August 2013
Mephedrone and methylone, two stimulants commonly found in designer drugs such as “bath salts,” act on the brain much like MDMA (Ecstasy).

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