Wednesday, March 13, 2019

A Gene Required for Addictive Behavior

Maged1 is a gene that has been previously studied in response to antidepressants and due to its activity in tumors. Since this gene can be altered by chronic cocaine treatment, researchers performed experiments to determine if Maged1 plays a role in cocaine addiction. Many different behaviors (eating, intercourse, etc.) cause rewarding stimuli to release dopamine that activates the “reward system” of the brain. Cocaine blocks the release of dopamine from the synapses which leads to a build-up of dopamine that over stimulates the brain. This build-up eventually leads to changes in the brain that leads to addiction. The mice that lacked the Maged1 gene were unresponsive to cocaine and did not show addictive behavior. Researchers believe that these experiments will help them fully understand drug addiction and new coping mechanisms.
I think that this gene is a very important one to study and experiment with since Maged1 affects numerous “dopamine releasing” behaviors. Not only will the full understanding of this gene be helpful in drug addictions, but it will also be helpful in other issues such as eating disorders. While I am not sure that it will be ethical to alter this gene in fetuses, I think that it will be useful in developing a drug or therapy to combat addiction in adults. There are thousands of people that die everyday due to addictions and I think that the full understanding of the Maged1 gene will be successful in decreasing addiction fatalities.

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