Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Molecular Switch in Brain May End Smokers’ Cravings - Health News - Health.com

Molecular Switch in Brain May End Smokers’ Cravings - Health News - Health.com

Blocking a neuropeptide receptor in the brain may be one way to quickly lessen the desire for a cigarette, a new study suggests.

Hypocretin-1, or Orexin A, a short chain of amino acids found in nerve tissue, appears to initiate a series of closely linked biochemical reactions that makes lab rats crave nicotine, the addictive chemical in tobacco, according to researchers at the Scripps Florida research institute in Jupiter.

If duplicated in humans, the finding could be lead to new smoking-cessation treatments, the researchers said.

“Blocking hypocretin-1 receptors not only decreased the motivation to continue nicotine use in rats, it also abolished the stimulatory effects of nicotine on their brain reward circuitries,” study leader Paul Kenny, a scientist at Scripps Florida, explained in a news release issued by the institute. “This suggests that hypocretin-1 may play a major role in driving tobacco use in smokers to want more nicotine. If we can find a way to effectively block this receptor, it could mean a novel way to help break people’s addiction to tobacco.”

Very interesting. Hypocretin or Orexin A deficits are the cause of narcolepsy. This compound activates the Hypothalamus, increasing mood, activity, attention, etc. Low Orexin levels make one sleepy, unmotivated, depressed, etc. Glucose lowers Orexin levels, and may even cause the body to destroy Orexin in the brain, causing narcolepsy. Smoking also seems to damage the body through manipulating insulin and glucose levels. People with ADD are more likely to smoke. It could be that they are self medicating due to low orexin levels. This is why my blog is called "it's all connected". I also think it's interesting that they want to create a med to block orexin, to help smokers stop. Woudn't this compound also cause the low arousal and motivation associated with narcolepsy and ADD? You won't want to smoke, or do much of anything else for that matter. Why not enhance orexin a with a low carb, ketogenic diet and exercise instead? Or just get enough sleep? I guess the idea is that no one will do that, and besides, there's no money in it for big pharm.

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