Scientists looking for ways to dampen the effects of cocaine come up with a way to enhance the effects of morphine

Morphine and cocaine both do a very good job of hitting the reward centers of your brain — but new research has shown that they do so in opposite ways.

Up until now, most experts believed that opiates and stimulants used the same pathways to trigger the reward centers of your brain, making using the drugs rather pleasurable — but turns out they’re very different. In this week’s issue of Science, researchers have discovered a mechanism that alters them oppositely.

The scientists were working with mice to surpress the protein brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which would would dampen the effects of stimulants like cocaine. What they found, surprisingly, was that knocking down the BDNF in part of the brain had the opposite effect on morphine, causing it to increase dopamine excitability and reward you more. The opposite held true, too — boost BDNF, and morphine becomes less potent.

They were also able to identify the genes that regulate BDNF when associated with morphine addiction.This also seems to suggest that heavy morphine users might have a much greater reaction to cocaine.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s