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Hormone-breaking mechanism plays a role in drug addiction

Dale Deutsch, Ph. D. of Stony Brook University recently discovered a new mechanism in which endocannabinoids are processed in the brain. Endocannabinoids are compounds found in the brain, which have similar properties with marijuana’s main ingredient THC. Endocannabinoids are also the compounds responsible for memory, pain and appetite. As published in the online Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences or PNAS, this important discovery could play a big role in putting together medicines to cure pain and addiction. It can also help one control his appetite.

Therapeutic findings

Dr. Deutsch, along with his colleagues, has identified two acid binding proteins or FABPs. These proteins carry the AEA or endocannabinoid anandamide, which is a neurotransmitter. The FABP transports the AEA from the cell membrane to inside the cell where it is then destroyed. Scientist then concluded that if they can inhibit the FABP in the body, they can also decrease the levels of AEA that are broken down. In fact, they can even decrease the neurotransmitter by as much as 50%.

A cure without side effects

According to Dr. Deutsch, lowering the levels of FABPs will then increase the amount of AEA in the synapses. Moderate levels of AEA will then cure pain without any side effects. These findings could significantly affect all future endeavors of developing new drugs that will target marijuana addiction. In fact, Stony Brook Office of Technology Licensing and Industry Relations has already filed for a patent regarding future products made from the discovery.

Digging deeper

Due to these recent studies, it was found that AEA actually requires two factors in order to successfully break down. First, it calls for a mechanism which can successfully transport it to the area of inactivation. This is because AEA cannot transport itself due to the fact that it is a fatty compound which is unable to move inside the cell which has a watery environment. The second factor is that the cell must have a particular enzyme that regulates the breakdown of the AEA. This enzyme is called FAAH.

Findings such as this one are extremely important especially when it comes to the industry of drug abuse treatment. At Miramar, tradition meets modernity when it comes to the rehabilitation programs. Treatment includes tried-and-tested methods like counseling and group therapy and also features contemporary therapeutic treatment options that include pet and art therapy, biking, walking in the woods and other enjoyable activities.

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