Neural Engineering: The Future of Addiction Treatment and the Role of Genetics

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The Future of Addiction Treatment and the Role of Genetics


Neural engineering a rapidly evolving field, is opening Pandora's box of the human brain's mysteries. This article aims to shed light on the potential of this discipline to turn the tide against alcoholism and other addictions?

The Unexpected Connection: Parkinson's Research and Addiction

Ohio State University professor Krystof Bankiewicz, initially engrossed in Parkinson's disease research stumbled upon a unique perspective o
n addiction. Isn't it fascinating how two seemingly unrelated fields can intersect? He believes that when it comes to brain disorders, we might be barking up the wrong tree by not considering different neural wiring. The brain's ability to organize connections is not a one-size-fits-all scenario.

The Role of Dopamine

Both Parkinson's and addictions are two sides of the same coin when it comes to dopamine. Activities, from the birds and the bees to the thrill of gambling, release dopamine. However, for some, this becomes a double-edged sword leading to addiction. As these behaviors become chronic, the brain's dopamine production goes downhill, explaining why addicts often feel they're chasing a high they can't catch.

Innovative Therapies: The Promise of GDNF

Bankiewicz, putting on his thinking cap, theorized that GDNF could be the key to unlocking the brain's addiction pathways. Preliminary experiments on macaque monkeys were a feather in his cap with treated monkeys showing no interest in alcohol.

The Global Impact of Alcohol Misuse

Alcohol misuse is a ticking time bomb, especially in the UK. In 2021, the grim reaper of alcohol misuse claimed nearly 21,000 souls.

Potential Applications for Other Addictions

Beyond alcoholism, could this therapy be the ace up our sleeve for other severe addictions? Given the high relapse rates, such treatments could be game-changers.

The Genetic Link to Addiction

While life's curveballs, like trauma, can lead to addictions, our genes might be the puppet masters behind the scenes. They can create urges that are hard to kick to the curb.

Emerging Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation Techniques

TMS is making waves as a potential way to help smokers kick the habit. Could this be the light at the end of the tunnel for many addicts?

The Future of Neural Engineering in Addiction Treatment

The advancements in neural engineering might be the wind beneath the wings of those battling addiction. However, with great power comes great responsibility and there are ethical landmines to navigate.

The Future of Addiction Treatment and the Role of Genetics


  • Q: What led Professor Krystof Bankiewicz to explore the link between Parkinson's research and addiction?

    A: His work with alcoholic monkeys provided a eureka moment offering insights into addiction pathways.

  • Q: How does dopamine play into the addiction narrative?

    A: Dopamine, the pleasure chemical, is released during pleasurable activities. However, for some, this pleasure becomes a slippery slope to addiction.

  • Q: What's the buzz about GDNF in addiction treatment?

    A: GDNF might be the key to resetting the brain's addiction pathways.

  • Q: Are our genes pulling the strings when it comes to addiction?

    A: Research suggests that our genes might be the puppeteers making some more prone to addiction.


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