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An orange and blue zebrafish

10 Sep How Zebrafish Help Us Study Addiction

In order to face the spread of addiction and combat the growing epidemic that has ravaged through a multitude of different states, there is nothing more important than the continuation of research towards how addiction affects the body and mind. Through research projects that continue to delve into this topic and further our understanding, we can then begin to develop ways to lessen the effects that it has on so many people. Here is some interesting information about a recent study on zebrafish that was conducted by the University of Utah that is opening the ways that we can study addiction…

University of Utah study

Researchers at the University of Utah Health department have begun a continuing study that utilizes zebrafish to study the effects of addiction by getting those zebrafish addicted to opioids. Researchers can watch the behavior of an addicted zebrafish to understand how responses to certain anti-overdose drugs is able to negate the effects of addiction.

The study works by using a motion sensor that causes food to dispense into a tank. The zebrafish get a small dose of opioids when they eat, which eventually causes addiction to manifest. Researchers found that addicted would continue to use the motion sensor at a much higher rate than zebrafish that weren’t given any opioids. What is especially surprising, though, is that zebrafish that were addicted would actually swim through shallow water to get to the sensor, which is something that zebrafish almost always avoid.

Zebrafish have similar neuronal networks to humans

The reason that zebrafish make such good test subjects is because they actually have highly similar neuronal networks to humans. This means that they have opioid receptors that impact the reward system of their brain by releasing dopamine throughout their system, which is exactly what happens to human brains under the influence of opioids.

Continued research helps study effects of anti-overdose drugs

One major way that this can help in the future of addiction research is by measuring the impact that different addiction treatment drugs can have on reducing dependency. It’s possible, through continued research, that we might even reach a point where medication can stunt the psychological and physical impulses that addiction creates.

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