Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


UCI neurobiologists find treatment to block memory-related drug cravings


Animal study shows potential for new therapies to aid drug-addiction recovery efforts

A novel chemical compound that blocks memory-related drug cravings has the potential to be the basis of new therapies to aid drug-addiction recovery efforts, UC Irvine neurobiologists have found.

Because exposure to people, places and objects previously associated with a drug habit can trigger overwhelming memory-based cravings, many former drug users often relapse into drug-taking behavior.

But a study led by John F. Marshall, a researcher in UCI’s Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, shows that memory for places associated with cocaine use can be strikingly altered by inactivating a specific protein called ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase) in the brains of animals. Especially significant is the finding that administering the inactivator compound immediately after recall of the cocaine-associated places also continued to blur memories of those places weeks later. This research provides novel insights into the brain mechanisms underlying relapse and suggests a new strategy for developing addiction treatments.

Study results appear in the Sept. 15 issue of Neuron.

“Our findings suggest that memories responsible for relapse in drug addicts may be similarly disrupted by a therapeutic agent targeting ERK or related proteins,” Marshall said. “This work, however, is a first step toward subsequent efforts that can produce effective drug-addiction therapies.”

In the study, Marshall and graduate student Courtney A. Miller employed rats that shuttled between two distinctive environments, one which offered cocaine. Because of the drug’s strong rewarding properties, these animals quickly learned which of the two compartments was associated with the cocaine and preferred to spend time in that environment.

The researchers were then able to block the rats’ strong memory for the cocaine-associated environment by infusing a drug that inactivates ERK – a chemical compound called U0126 – into a brain region that rewards learning. Most importantly, this inhibitory effect was long lasting, with the memory blocked for at least two weeks after the single infusion.

Continuing research by Marshall and his colleagues investigates how this ERK inactivation affects the brain to block memory for cocaine-associated places.

Marshall is professor of neurobiology and behavior in the UCI School of Biological Sciences. The National Institute of Drug Abuse provided support for the study.

About the University of California, Irvine: Celebrating 40 years of innovation, the University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,400 faculty members. The second-largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3 billion.

Tom Vasich | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht North and South Cooperation to Combat Tuberculosis
22.03.2018 | Universität Zürich

nachricht Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein
22.03.2018 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>