RESEARCH REPORT: Natural mechanism controls cocaine use

Why are some people more vulnerable to addiction than others? Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute may have an answer after their discovery of the key role of a particular type of genetic material in cocaine addiction. In animal studies, the scientists found that increasing the level of a molecule called microRNA-212 in the brains of test animals conveyed protection against addictive behavior. Conversely, a reduction in microRNA-212 in the brain raised addiction susceptibility.

What the new findings suggest is that individuals with serious addiction problems may have damaged supplies of microRNA-212, or the microRNA may not function properly.

With this knowledge it might be possible to develop a therapeutic that mimics or stimulates the production of this particular microRNA.
The study appears in the journal Nature. News release here.

Similarities found in bird and human brains
The brains of mammals have long been thought to be more highly evolved than the brains of other animals (such as birds) based, in part, upon the distinctive structure of the mammalian forebrain and neocortex — a part of the brain’s outer layer where complex cognitive functions are centered.

A new study by UCSD School of Medicine researchers found that comparable regions of the brain, used by humans and chickens to analyze auditory signals, are constructed in a similar manner.

Sophisticated imaging technologies, used to map this region of the chicken brain, revealed that the avian cortical region is composed of laminated layers of cells with extensive interconnections that form microcircuits virtually identical to those found in the cortex of mammals. A practical outcome of this discovery could be the use of birds as a non-mammalian animal model in brain studies.

The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. News release here.

Brain stem cells at rest
Stem cells in the brain remain dormant until called upon to divide and make neurons. However, little is known about what keeps them inactive. Now, scientists from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have identified the signal that prevents stem cells from proliferating, thus, protecting the brain against too much cell division and ensuring a pool of neural stem cells that lasts a lifetime.

Researchers focused their attention on bone morphogenetic factor protein (BMP) and found BMP signaling in non-dividing cells, including dormant stem cells. Conversely, in proliferating cells BMP signaling activity was not detected.

Two brain regions harbor neural stem cells. One is the hippocampus, an area of the brain vulnerable to age-related degeneration. Regular physical exercise has been shown to slow the shrinking of the aging hippocampus and also to improve learning and memory in mature adults. Thus, new insights into adult stem cells regulation may ultimately help scientists understand the interplay between exercise, aging and neurogenesis.

The research appears in the journal Cell Stem Cell. News release here.

Related posts:

  1. SRI eliminating the controversy in stem cell research
  2. Scripps research advances stem cell work
  3. Research Report: UCSD study gives insights on anorexia nervosa
  4. Local research teams awarded $75M in funding
  5. Research Report: Team links protein to cartilage degeneration

Short URL: http://www.delmartimes.net/?p=6127

Posted by on Jul 15, 2010. Filed under Archives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Archives

Facebook

Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6

LA JOLLA NEWS

RSS LA JOLLA NEWS

  • FRONTLINE CANCER: Exercise, exercise, exercise!
    Regular exercise improves health in ways most of us already know. It helps control weight, maintain strong bones, muscles and joints, reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and premature death. Exercise quite literally makes us feel better, physically and mentally. […]
  • Hunger Games in the Real World
    At age 6, Nya, a girl living in San Diego, was suffering from malnourishment because her father, a single parent was struggling to raise (and feed) his children on an $11-an-hour job. For long periods of time their cupboards were bare, and Nya, who is now 18, subsisted on a diet of ramen noodles and free lunches provided by her charter school. She was in cri […]
  • Fall brings the call to learn something new
    Local gems like UCSD Extension, Osher Lifelong Learning, La Jolla Community Center and La Jolla Library all offer a variety of opportunities for personal growth — and all welcome newcomers. […]

RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

RSS RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

  • Rancho Santa Fe Invasive Plants and Better Alternatives
    By Steve Jacobs, Nature Designs In California we are lucky to live in a mild climate that allows us to grow amazing landscapes. Because of this mild climate, plants from other parts of the world often thrive; and some grow so well they become known as invasive. These plants ‘jump fences’ and ‘throw seeds.’ Their […]
  • Rancho Santa Fe School District’s robotics program receives new funding
    The Rancho Santa Fe School District is making its school’s robotics program more robust this year, allocating $42,500 in stipends to staff coaches just like the district does for its athletics program. “I think the program has taken a big step,” said Superintendent Lindy Delaney. “I think we’re on our way toward developing a great program there.” John Galipa […]
  • Back to School for R. Roger Rowe students
    Students at R. Roger Rowe School bid a fond farewell to summer and headed back to school Aug. 25. Photos by Jon Clark. […]