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Scientists edge closer to a cure for cocaine addiction 

  • G-CSF protein accumulates in the brains of mice given repeated cocaine doses
  • This protein causes the animals to desire more in a reward-response cycle 
  • Injecting another protein neutralizes G-CSF and reduces mice’s desires
  • The injection does this without increasing their cravings for other substances 
  • In the US, around 1.4% of young adults take cocaine every month 

A breakthrough edges scientists one step closer to a cure for cocaine addiction.

Researchers from Mount Sinai hospital have discovered how to ‘turn off’ a protein that causes addicts to crave the class A-drug.

Mice who are repeatedly given cocaine have higher levels of a certain protein, known as G-CSF, in their brain, which accumulates in a region associated with reward.

Injecting a protein in this brain region neutralizes G-CSF, reducing the animals’ desire for the powdery substance, the study found.

In the US, around 1.4 percent of people aged between 18 and 24 take cocaine at least once a month. 

A breakthrough edges scientists one step closer to a cure for cocaine addiction (stock)


Teenage cannabis use may increase a person’s risk of suffering from bipolar disorder in later life, research suggested last December.

People who used cannabis at least two-to-three times a week at 17 years old are more likely to experience hypomania in their earlier 20s, according to the first study of its kind.

Hypomania is defined as an elevated mood alongside irritability or an inflated ego, an unrealistic sense of superiority, frenzied speech and a reduced need for sleep.

Such symptoms frequently occur in bipolar-disorder sufferers.

Lead author Dr Steven Marwaha from Warwick Medical School, said: ‘Adolescent cannabis use may be an independent risk factor for future hypomania, and the nature of the association suggests a potential causal link.’

Cannabis is the most commonly-used drug in the UK, with 6.5 per cent of people aged between 16 and 59 taking it in the past year, which makes up around 2.1 million individuals.

May treat humans without causing other addictions

Results further reveal the injection reduces mice’s desire for cocaine without increasing their cravings for other substances, in this case sugary water.

The jab could therefore potentially be used in humans without the risk of them developing other addictions.  

Study author Dr Drew Kiraly said: ‘The results of this study are exciting because outside of 12-step programs and psychotherapy, no medication-assisted therapy exists to treat cocaine addiction.’

Twelve-step programs help people recover from addictions by encouraging principles such as honesty, courage and compassion. 

As well as the lack of available treatments, G-CSF-based drugs in cocaine addiction may be available relatively soon as the protein is already used in existing therapies and has therefore proven its safety.

Dr Kiraly said: ‘Once we clarify how G-CSF signaling can best be targeted to reduce addiction-like behaviors, there is a high possibility that treatments targeting G-CSF could be translated into clinical trials and treatments for patients.’

It is unclear when human trials may be underway or when G-CSF-based drugs for cocaine addiction could become available.  

The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.