Everybody knows cocaine is bad for you. So why do so many people take it? It gets you high. You feel good for a little while. Then you re sad again. Teenagers have this problem a lot. Scientists have found a way to maybe prevent highs when using cocaine. Actually, they found a way in animals, and they are hoping to use it on humans. The team showed that the epilepsy drug gamma vinyl-GABA, or GVG, blocked cocaine's effect in the brains of primates, including the process that causes a "high" feeling in humans. Also, the rodents didn t go back to the place they received the cocaine as much as they did without the epilepsy drug, which is important behavior when pertaining to a human being.
Cocaine may be one of the toughest addictions to cure because it triggers a buildup of a protein that persists in the brain and stimulates genes that intensify the craving for the drug. The GVG might be able to help because it sort of stops the chemical release of the protein that builds up and causes the brain to crave the drug. Addiction is a complex process in humans because it is linked to learning and multiple chemical pathways in the brain. So, if some of these can be blocked, then there is no more addiction, and with GVG, there might not be, once it is tested on humans. Since it helped the animals, there is a good chance of it helping us.
In the brain, chemicals called neurotransmitters constantly float between brain cells, sending messages that travel through the brain and into the body in a process similar to the game "Telephone." (The molecules pass on the messages.) After neurotransmitter molecules complete their task of leaving their home brain cell and docking with a neighboring cell to convey the message, they usually return to their home cell or are eliminated in the space between cells, called the synapse. But nicotine, cocaine and many other addictive drugs wreak havoc with this process.
Obviously, the chemical things involved in this have a lot to do with the brain s most common neurotransmitter, GABA. It releases dopamine, which makes you feel good. So, if the epilepsy drug helps animals, there is a good chance that it will help humans.