Studying addiction at its many levels
Methamphetamine abuse affects the human organism at many levels: brain, body, thoughts, genes… Our research allows deeper understanding of why and how methamphetamine addiction develops. Therefore treating and preventing addiction is possible.
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Looking at how genes impact MA use
Genes that influence methamphetamine (MA) use have been difficult to identify, but animal research conducted by members of our Center have made a novel discovery of a gene with a major effect on MA intake. This gene codes for a receptor, called the trace amine-associated receptor 1 or TAAR1, that normally curbs MA intake, but when it is non-functional, unfettered MA consumption occurs: Humans possess several forms of this gene, some of which could lead to greater craving for MA use and risk for relapse. Our Center will perform in-depth studies in rodent models and humans of the importance of this gene and receptor on several behavioral, physiological and brain responses to MA, with the goal of identifying new mechanisms for treatment.