Researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Duke University Medical Center have deleted the gene for a crucial molecular component of a mouse's nervous system and created an animal that, in essence, mimics a person constantly high on illicit drugs.

Marc Caron, a Hughes investigator and professor of cell biology at Duke, said initial studies with the mice have yielded surprising insights that challenge conventional theories about drug addiction and Parkinson's disease and may provide the first realistic model for testing new treatments for psychiatric disorders.

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Jim Keeley 301.215.8858 keeleyj@hhmi.org