Cocaine is highly addictive. But cocaine’s appeal can be greatly reduced, if not wiped out, by activating a particular type of receptor in the brain, a new study suggests.
Researchers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Beijing Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology trained several types of mice to give themselves cocaine. Then they gave the animals a compound called JWH133, which turns off a cannibinoid receptor called CB2.
Normal mice responded by giving themselves less cocaine. In fact, the more JWH133 they got, the less cocaine they wanted. By giving the mice a series of other compounds, the researchers deduced that the reason the mice dialed back their cocain habits was that the drug no longer made them feel so good.
But the scientists got different results in mice that were altered so that their CB2 receptors were knocked out. For these mice, administration of JWH133 had no effect on cocaine usage.