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Cocaine Addiction a Matter of Genetics, UBC Researchers Say

By March 2, 2017No Comments

Scientists at the University of B.C.have built a better mouse — one that is indifferent to cocaine.

Unlike normal mice, the genetically engineered rodents did not show addictive behaviour even after repeated injections over days, suggesting that habitual drug use in humans may be a matter of genetics.

While the finding is unlikely to yield a pill that cures addiction anytime soon, it could lead to a test that identifies who is at greatest risk of addiction and enable people to act on that knowledge, saidShernaz Bamji, the lead author of a study published today by the journal Nature Neuroscience.

The finding provides a biochemical model for addiction based onprevious work at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., that found people with genetic mutations associated with a class of proteins in the brain called cadherins are more prone to substance abuse.

Cadherin helps bind cells together and play a role inwhich brain circuits are strengthened during learning — even learning that certain drugs deliver pleasure.