By Avram Goldstein
Content material: medications and the mind. Neurotransmitters : the brain's personal medicinal drugs -- Receptors : locks for the addictive keys -- Addictive habit -- soreness and delight -- The seesaw mind : "highs" and diversifications -- Are addicts born or made? the medication and the addicts. Nicotine -- Alcohol and similar medicinal drugs -- Heroin, morphine, and different opiates -- Cocaine and amphetamines -- hashish (Marijuana) -- Caffeine -- Hallucinogens. medicines and society. Prevention : simply say no? -- Treating dependancy, fighting relapse -- 3 classes from the road -- 3 classes from out of the country -- Prohibition vs. legalization : a fake dichotomy -- New options for rational drug coverage
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A leading center for peptide sequence determination at that time was at Caltech in Pasadena. There, the nearly invisible speck of material went for analysis. I shall never forget the telephone call a few days later: "Here's the sequence: Tyr, Gly, Gly, Phe, Leu, Arg, Arg, He, Arg. . " I knew at once that we had discovered a completely novel opioid peptide. The first five amino acids were the familiar ones in leucine-enkephalin but everything after that was different from any known sequence. The thrill of discovery is the main reward of scientific research.
Because of their strong similarities, all three genes are thought to have evolved from a common ancestral opioid peptide gene. Opioid peptides are found throughout the animal kingdom and not only in the brain, but also in other tissues throughout the body. Dynorphins, for example, are present in the brain, spinal cord, intestinal tract, heart, and testes, as well as in the pituitary gland where we first discovered them. An endogenous peptide, orphanin-FQ (also called nociceptin), is very closely related to dynorphin in its sequence, but does not bind to any of the opioid receptors; it has its own specific receptor (see chapter 3).
If an addictive drug stimulates a particular group of neurons, the local blood flow will increase, and radiolabeled sugar will rush into the cells, marking that region in the PET scan. A related method for identifying nerve activity in the living brain is functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The glucose PET scan and fMRI have shown, for example, that nicotine stimulates certain highly localized areas in the brain; and the ligand PET scan, using labeled nicotine, confirms that these are indeed areas dense in nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.
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