In order to find new ways to combat addiction and obesity, researchers have concentrated on finding therapies that can interrupt the way illicit drugs and food stimulate the 'reward' center of the brain. Now new research has highlighted a brain protein called DARPP-32 which bolsters the well-documented dopamine response. The research team found that the protein builds up in the brains of mice. Engineering mice that produce an altered variation of the protein lessened the impact of drugs and lowered the number of times they would signal for the release of food. They say that finding a therapy that blocks the accumulation of DARPP-32 in the striatum could help fight addiction as well as treat mental illnesses associated with dopamine as a trigger.
"Taken together these results show that (the) mutation... alters long-lasting responses to drugs of abuse, and decreases motivation for food reward," the study says.
- read the AFP story