Researchers have illuminated how cocaine and amphetamines disrupt the normal functioning of the dopamine transporter in the brain.
The discovery of Vollum Institute at Oregon Health and Science University paves the way for developing treatments that could blunt the effects of cocaine and amphetamines in patients who are addicted.
The dopamine transporter serves as a "pump" that removes the neurotransmitter from the synapse or the regions of nerve cell to nerve cell communication. Amphetamines and cocaine block dopamine signaling by interfering with the dopamine transporter.
In showing how cocaine and amphetamine block normal dopamine signaling, the research provides insights, which may, in turn, lead to an understanding of why some drugs are addictive and others are not. It also opens the door to the development of drugs that could block the interference of cocaine and amphetamine with dopamine signaling.
This groundbreaking research arms the pharmaceutical industry with specific information about targets for treatment, opening the door for new therapeutic approaches for blocking the effects of cocaine and amphetamine, said Richard Goodman.
The study is published online in the journal Nature.