Amino Acid Heals Damage of Cocaine Addiction – May Help People Beat Cravings
Researchers in South Carolina say they’ve found a harmless amino acid that seems able to reverse some of the brain changes that occur during cocaine addiction.
Cocaine causes lasting changes in areas of the brain that regulate reward behavior and decision making. These neural changes seem to limit a person’s ability to fight temptation and so increase the risks of relapse back to drug use.
N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is an amino acid derivative. Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina found that when they gave cocaine addicted rats NAC, normal function was restored to a glutamate pathway in the brain (a pathway that regulates reward and behavior).
Although rats were cocaine dependent prior to NAC administration, after NAC and neural healing, the rats exhibited no drug seeking behavior, even when presented with cocaine cues.
Khaled Moussawi, lead study author, commented on the findings, saying, "Our finding suggests a promising therapeutic strategy for cocaine addiction, for which there is no approved treatment.
The findings were presented at Neuroscience 2009 in Chicago, the annual conference of the Society for Neuroscience