Scientists ID a new approach to treating nicotine addiction

Nicotine addiction has already defeated a number of companies that have tried to come up with an effective cure. Now scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and The Scripps Research Institute say they have identified a particular circuit in the brain that promotes anxiety during withdrawal--offering a new approach in R&D. And by blocking activation of certain anxiety-causing neurons in mice, the researchers say they may be on the track to developing new therapies for addiction. "We identified a novel circuit in the brain that becomes active during nicotine withdrawal, specifically increasing anxiety," said principal investigator Andrew Tapper, an associate professor of psychiatry. "Increased anxiety is a prominent nicotine withdrawal symptom that contributes to relapse in smokers attempting to quit." Release

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