Understanding resistance to methadone treatment for opioid dependence

Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) is the most widely-used therapy in opioid dependence, but it is not effective in some patients, who relapse or drop out from treatment. Researchers at the IMIM and Hospital del Mar led by Marta Torrens, in collaboration with colleagues at the CRG, have found a possible explanation of why some people may not respond well to this treatment. As the authors explain in their paper published this month in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, they carried out a genetic analysis on several patients, focusing on the gene ALDH5A1. This enzyme is involved in the catabolism of the … Continue reading Understanding resistance to methadone treatment for opioid dependence

Understanding cannabis

Cannabis has a long history of use as medicine, with historical evidence dating back more than 4000 years.  The potential therapeutic benefits of cannabinoid compounds are huge, but this substance can also have negative effects. A recent paper by Andrés Ozaita and colleagues at the Neurophar laboratory of Rafael Maldonado (CEXS-UPF) has given new insights into the molecular mechanisms that underlie cannabinoid-mediated effects. Using mice as a model system, the authors had previously shown that blocking the mTOR pathway prevented the amnesic-like effects of THC (a synthetic form of cannabinoid). In the present study, published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, they have gone further, … Continue reading Understanding cannabis

Focus on addiction: a CSHL course at the PRBB

Next July 18-25 a Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory (CSHL) summer course on “Cellular biology of addiction” will take place at the PRBB. The deadline for registration has just been extended until March 30, so hurry up!! The course is organized by Rafael Maldonado, from the UPF and it is addressed both to experienced researchers and those new to the field. Its aim is to explain and discuss the latest advances and the major gaps in cell and molecular biology of drug addiction, although other subjects such as learning, memory and drug development will also be included. The course is co-organized … Continue reading Focus on addiction: a CSHL course at the PRBB

Overexpressing the Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in mice increases sensitivity to nicotine

A publication in Amino Acids by researchers from UPF, CRG and other centers provides the first in vivo evidence of the involvement of the CHRNA5/A3/B4 gene cluster in nicotine addiction. It happens through modifying the activity of brain regions responsible for the balance between the rewarding and the aversive properties of this drug. CHRNA5/A3/B4 codes for the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunits A5, A3 and B4. Together they form the ligand-gated pentameric ion channels that modulate key physiological processes ranging from neurotransmission to cancer signaling. These receptors are activated by the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, and the tobacco alkaloid, nicotine. Recently, the gene … Continue reading Overexpressing the Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in mice increases sensitivity to nicotine