Scientist Discover Exactly What Cocaine Does To Your Brain

High doses of cocaine can encourage some brain cells to destroy themselves, according to a new research study. Although the phenomenon has only been documented in mouse cells, the findings suggest that treatments customized to interfere with the cell death process could possibly prevent or reverse the negative impacts of cocaine in humans.

" We performed 'autopsies' to discover how cells die from high dosages of drug," stated Dr. Solomon Snyder, professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University and coauthor on the research study, in a prepared declaration. "That information provided us instant understanding into how we may use a recognized compound to interfere with that process and avoid the damage."

Cells are occasionally supposed to kill themselves; to fold up and die for the greater good. One type of cell death, called apoptosis, in fact forms our fingers, when the cells in the webbing in between our digits die off during early development. Comparable cell death processes can encourage malformed, malfunctioning cells to die before they cause tumors-- when that system breaks, we call it "cancer.".

But when healthy brain cells die prior to their time, that's a problem. Scientists found that cocaine can activate one particular damaging cell death procedures, referred to as autophagy, in mice. "A cell is like a home that is continuously producing garbage," said Prasun Guha, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow at Hopkins and coauthor on the study, in a prepared statement. "Autophagy is the housekeeper that takes out the trash-- it's usually a good idea. But cocaine makes the maid get rid of really crucial things, like mitochondria, which produce energy for the cell.".

After finding drug's odd results on mouse brains, the team attempted to interfere with the chemical processes that trigger cell death. They understood from previous research study that the compounds nitric oxide and GAPDH were involved in the process, and that an experimental drug understood only as "CGP3466B" might hinder both chemicals, so they tested the drug on mouse cells that had actually been exposed to especially high levels of cocaine. And it worked!

That's especially good news, due to the fact that CGP3466B has already been tested in Stage II scientific trials to treat Parkinson's and ALS. Although those trials were unsuccessful, they did prove that CGP3466B is safe for human consumption, possibly leading the way for the speculative drug to end up being a frontline treatment for individuals who are suffering mental health issues after abusing cocaine.

Still, it is very important to keep in mind that this study only revealed lead to mouse cells. Before any medical treatment is even on the table, researchers would need to demonstrate CGP3466B's impacts on real mice and, later, in human beings. However, the scientists are optimistic. "In these [prior] research studies CGP3466B seemed safe with minimal negative effects," the authors compose. "This drug or associated representatives might be useful in the therapy of cocaine abuse."

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