Scientists at the University of British Columbia have genetically engineered a mouse that does not become addicted to cocaine.
The mice they created had higher levels of a protein called cadherin, which helps bind cells together.
In the brain, cadherin helps strengthen synapses between neurons — the gaps that electrical impulses must traverse to bring about any action or function controlled by the brain, whether it’s breathing, walking, learning a new task or recalling a memory.
Their finding provides an explanation for previous studies showing that people with substance use problems tend to have more genetic mutations associated with cadherin and cell adhesion.
Unfortunately, finding a way of augmenting cadherin as a way of resisting addiction in humans is fraught with pitfalls.