According to researcher, the 3D structure of a protein that can assist those people who are suffering from bad habit like nicotine knack.
The protein, called alpha-4-beta-2 nicotinic receptor, sits on nerve cells in the brain. Nicotine binds to the receptor when someone smokes a cigarette or chews tobacco, causing the protein to open a path for ions to enter the cell.
The process produces cognitive benefits such as increased memory and focus but is also highly addictive.
“It’s going to require a big team of people and a pharmaceutical company to study the protein and develop the drugs, but I think this is the first major stepping stone to making that happen,” said study co-author Ryan Hibbs, Assistant Professor at the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in the US.
The expectation is that the 3D structures will help researchers understand how nicotine influences the activity of the receptor and lead to a medication that mimics its actions in the brain.
The finding may also have benefits in creating medications for certain types of epilepsy, mental illness, and dementia such as Alzheimer’s, which are also associated with the nicotinic receptor, the researchers said.
Studies have shown smoking cessation drugs have mixed results in treating nicotine addiction, as have other methods such as nicotine patches and chewing gum.