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Fundamental research, Health, Scientific progress

29 - 08 - 2017

Opioïdes : Studying addiction through fish

A study shows that fish may be the right animal to study opioïd addiction.


Whilst scientific knowledge of the subject remains insufficient, worldwide drug use of opioïds surges.


Zebrafish (danio rerio) share 70% of DNA with us as well as our drug addiction biological pathway. They carry μ-opioid receptors (MOR) and dopamine and glutamate neurotransmitters.





Researchers have successfully conditioned zebrafish to self-administer hydrocodone, an opiate based narcotic. To do so, the fish simply had to swim close enough to a platform. Once the experiment was on its way, they did it even if the access to the area was more difficult. A treatment with naloxone, an opiate blocker, lessened this behavior.


The particular interest of this test subject is that the experiment is faster and cheaper than that of mice and primates. It also gives access to rapid genetic modifications that allows for the exploration of the biological pathway of addiction.