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What Can Zebrafish Tell Us About Opiate Addiction?

What Can Zebrafish Tell Us About Opiate Addiction?

A recent study was conducted about opiate addiction using zebrafish, whose neurological structures are similar to humans. They were showing signs of addiction to drugs, which can provide an open door for testing therapies that support addiction recovery. More therapies mean more options for people who are fighting the increasingly challenging battle against opiate addiction.

Zebrafish Study

The new zebrafish study is only one step toward developing a therapy that would not use another opioid in place of the first addiction. It is easy to test a large variety of drugs that are approved on zebrafish and could speed up the process of narrowing down compounds at a low cost. The lack of opioid addiction research has hindered scientists’ abilities to develop solutions to the growing problem in the U.S. and around the world. There is no effective medical treatment for drug-seeking behavior that humans develop as part of an opioid addiction. Zebrafish are more often used to study mental health disorders but now this new model may help shed light on new interventions for people with addiction to opiates.

Herding Fish

Researchers used technology that allowed zebrafish in a tank to self-administer opioids. The fish swim across the sensor on the yellow-colored platform, which detects movements. The motion sensor activated the release of food, which was sent into the tank while a green light flashed. The fish learned that when they want food, they could swim across the platform for it. The researchers placed food with an opioid in the tank and, over the course of the week, their behavior became more frantic and aggressive to trigger release of the drug. The fish sought out the drug in spite of consequences. Researchers confirmed by the end of the study that zebrafish who were triggering release of the drug developed an addiction to it using the same molecular pathways as other animals. Scientists hope further study of this process will provide more insight into the pathways and how they work so people can seek treatment.

Potential drugs are typically tested for some time prior to being available to the public. The challenge with testing on fish is that it is not an exact match to how it will work in humans. The main idea is that new theories and drugs are being tested that can help those who struggle with opiate addiction, which provides new hope for this challenging epidemic affecting so many lives.

Opiate addiction is challenging but you can work towards healing in recovery with the right support. Serenity provides programs and resources to help you move past addiction. Through detox and rehab, we offer you a chance to focus on your recovery in a safe space.

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