Researchers found a particular enzyme that might play a vital role in treating smoking and alcohol addiction. The researchers conducted the study on the mice, wherein they manage to find the particular enzyme. They believe that this could play a vital role in developing a drug that could treat alcoholism and smoking at the same time. The study got conducted at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center, affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco.
Over the course of four weeks, mice genetically engineered to lose the gene for protein kinase C (PKC) epsilon drunk few nicotine-containing water solution than normal mice, and were less probable to return to a chamber, wherein they got provided with nicotine.
On the contrary, normal mice gradually increased their intake of nicotine solution while the mice lacking PKC epsilon did not.
The study carried out by Gallo senior associate director and investigator Robert O. Messing, MD, UCSF professor of neurology, and Gallo researcher Anna M. Lee, PhD.
In normal mice, as in humans, nicotine attach to a class of nicotinic receptors that could be found on dopamine neurons, causing dopamine to be let loosed in the brain. Dopamine starts a feeling of enjoyment and thus prompts a sense of reward. Lee and Messing discovered that mice lacking PKC epsilon are lacking in these nicotinic receptors.
The finding complements previous research, wherein Messing found that mice genetically engineered lacks the PKC epsilon enzyme drank less alcohol than normal mice and disinclined to go back to a chamber, that they got the alcohol in the first place.
Messing says this could mean that the mice the urge to take more nicotine or alcohol. The enzyme looks as it controls the part of the reward system, which tells the mice to crave for more alcohol or nicotine. The reward system is a center of areas in the brain that has the power to affect craving for nicotine, alcohol and other addictive substances.
Messing claims that the next part of the research would be developing compounds that can prevent PKC epsilon. The ultimate goal is going to be a drug that cures nicotine and alcohol addictions. The drug should have the ability to take the edge off of addiction by helping people endure some of their reward craving.
The research got its support from the U.S. Public Health Service and the Canadian Institute of Health Research and by funds provided by the State of California for medical research on alcohol and substance abuse through UCSF.