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UMKC Research Targets Drug Addiction

By Kelley Weiss

Kansas City, MO – Researchers at the University of Missouri-Kansas City are making new discoveries in understanding and treating drug addiction. KCUR's Kelley Weiss reports.

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Dr. John Wang, a neuroscientist at UMKC's School of Medicine, found that a direct interaction between two brain receptors caused the euphoric effect of cocaine. Wang says little data exists pinpointing how certain drugs interact with the brain to produce highs.

But, this study enabled researchers to understand the process in rats and block the interaction in the animals' brains, disabling the drug's effectiveness. Wang says this discovery could hold the answers to many questions about drug addiction.

John Wang: "We tested the cocaine first and we can go on to test some other addictive drugs, such as amphetamine. So whether this interaction is universal to all different types of drugs."

Wang says this research still needs to be tested in human clinical trials. These findings could be used to develop treatments that would prevent people from using addictive drugs or help people quit. The medical journal Neuron recently published the results from Wang's study.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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