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Health NewsFeed #497


At first blush, drug addiction and long-term memory may not appear to have a lot in common. But the two processes seem to share an important link: a protein called Homer. Recently identified by a Johns Hopkins neurological team, Homer is created quickly and in large amounts by brain nerve cells when they are stimulated in certain ways. The protein showed its face when researchers exposed rats to cocaine. It also popped up during a lab test of how long-term memory is created. Scientists call it Homer because it "homes in"on areas where messages are passed between nerve cells. Hopkins neurologist Dr. Paul Worley describes it as...
A protein that's rapidly made in neurons as they learn. And what's unique about it is that it seems to be targeted back to synapses, where it would appear to play a role in modifying the efficacy of neural connections.
Dr. Worley says a better understanding of Homer could someday lead to more effective treatments for drug addiction.

At the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutes, I'm Tom Haederle reporting.

Copyright 1997 The Johns Hopkins University. All rights reserved.

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