by Bennett Daviss
Scientists led by a Duke University research team have created a new molecule that weakens the high that cocaine and methamphetamines deliver to the brain.
The molecule is a neurotensin, a kind of protein that moderates reward-seeking behaviors and has been known to reduce food- and drug-seeking in mice.
Using a neurotensin to curb drug addiction isn’t a new idea. But previous attempts have resulted in concoctions that slow blood pressure and drop body temperatures to dangerous levels and also impair physical coordination.
The new molecule, known as SBI-553, causes fewer and less severe side effects.
In tests, mice were treated with SBI-553 and then allowed to ingest either cocaine or  methamphetamine. The new molecule calmed the usual hyperactivity that results from drug use and dulled the brain’s pleasure centers that the narcotics activate.
After 20 minutes to an hour, the treated mice were given access to more coke and meth but voluntarily reduced their intake by about 80 percent and showed none of neurotensins’ usual side effects.
TRENDPOST: This new therapeutic molecule moves the issue of drug addiction closer to being understood and treated as a manageable, or even curable, condition instead of as a moral failing or a crime.

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