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Why Acid Trips Last Long; Scientists Attached LSD To Brain Cell

Update Date: Jan 28, 2017 09:38 AM EST
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Researchers from the University Of North Carolina School Of Medicine have found LSD can bind to a receptor in the brain. This has been attempted by researchers since the 1950s but didn't come close to finding out why acid trips last longer.

Around 1 in 10 people in the US have taken LSD some time in their life. It is a potent hallucinogen and takes effect 30 minutes after it has been taken. 100 micrograms have strong effects that last 12 hours or longer.

UNC researcher John McCorvy was able to successfully bind LSD to the serotonin 2b receptor and found that the receptor had folded over the LSD. A lid-like loop of protein slides over the drug and binds the release of chemicals. It keeps the LSD bound to the receptor longer and explains why the drug has long-lasting effects.

The snapshot they took of the crystal structure showed the location of every single atom in the receptor bound with LSD. Researchers mass produced the receptors from a genetically engineered cell of caterpillars. After mixing LSD and receptors the microcrystals formed.

It had to be sent to the Advanced Photon Source at the Argonne National Laboratory for X-ray crystallography to work out its structure. Daniel Wacker and Sheng Wang led the experiments to capture crystallography images of the LSD and receptor solution according to Medical News Today.

The first crystal structure was obtained in the 1970s in a study published in the journal Science by Peter Pauling. During the 1960s hallucinogens were widely tested for its effects on mental illness, consciousness and spirituality.

Newsweek reported, researcher Bryan Roth of UNC said "This gives us tremendous insights into how it exerts its profound effects on human consciousness. And it only took 20 years." Roth and his team of experts published the paper in the journal Cell on January 26.

The revival of psychedelic research may help to find treatment for addiction, depression and anxiety. It was funded by National Institutes of Health and aims to create better drugs something similar to LSD without the hallucinations to treat psychiatric disorders.

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