Protein Linked to Addiction, Learning Disorder

New animal research suggests that a protein called PSD-95 is linked both to cocaine addiction and learning disorders.

Over the past six years, researchers in the United Kingdom and the United States have examined molecular changes in the brains of mice. They found that the absence of PSD-95 impaired learning and memory processes. They also found that cocaine use lowers levels of the protein, which may explain the memory and coordination problems suffered by many drug users.

The researchers found that reduced levels of the protein or the complete lack of it interfered with the way the brain changes electrical activity in nerve cells into chemical activity.

“The protein molecule is important in the type of learning to do with people, places and things, so cocaine strikes at the kinds of learning which would include, for example, studying for examinations,” said Seth Grant, professor of molecular neuroscience at Edinburgh University in the United Kingdom.
The study’s findings could lead to the development of drugs that might reverse the damage and reduce drug cravings.

Source: The Guardian reported Feb. 23.

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