Potential new treatment for cocaine addiction

August 31, 2016
A pile of cocaine hydrochloride. Credit: DEA Drug Enforcement Agency, public domain

A team of researchers led by Cardiff University has discovered a promising new drug treatment for cocaine addiction.

The , which involves administering a currently used in cancer therapy trials, treats cocaine addiction by inhibiting memories responsible for cravings.

Professor Riccardo Brambilla from Cardiff University's School of Biosciences said: "We have demonstrated that a single administration of a trial drug from the pharmacompany Pfizer can completely obliterate cocaine associated memories and significantly accelerate the end of drug seeking behaviour in animals. With this drug currently being used in cancer trials, it could be easily repositioned for treatment of and other drugs of abuse."

Cocaine produces its partially by acting on the brain's limbic system - a set of interconnected regions that regulate pleasure and motivation. When a person uses cocaine, memories of the intense pleasure felt and the things associated with it are newly created. It is these long lasting memories and drug-associated cues, key to the transition from recreational drug taking to compulsive drug use, which the new treatment inhibited when tested on mice.

Dr Stefania Fasano from Cardiff University added, "With drug use recently on the rise, new treatments for breaking addiction are much needed. The availability of a powerful drug from Pfizer, already validated in humans, could speed up the clinical development of our findings."

The research is published in the journal eLife.

This was an experimental study in mice, which allows for conclusions to be made about cause and effect in this species. To learn about the effect of this treatment in people experimental trials with humans will be necessary.

Explore further: Study using animal model provides clues to why cocaine is so addictive

More information: Impairment of cocaine-mediated behaviours in mice by clinically relevant Ras-ERK inhibitors; eLife 2016;5:e17111; DOI: dx.doi.org/
10.7554/eLife.17111

Related Stories

Study using animal model provides clues to why cocaine is so addictive

August 1, 2016
Scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center are one step closer to understanding what causes cocaine to be so addictive. The research findings are published in the current issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Scientists show molecule in brain may drive cocaine addiction

August 10, 2016
A new study from scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), funded by the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), ...

Researchers study how fluctuating hormones affect female vulnerability to cocaine addiction

August 3, 2016
Researchers at The University of Texas at Arlington are studying how fluctuating estrogen levels make females increasingly sensitive to the rewarding effects of cocaine and ultimately, vulnerable to cocaine addiction.

New role for glial energy metabolism in addiction

June 9, 2016
Addiction may be viewed as a disorder of reward learning. To date, addiction research has focused on the molecular adaptations through which memories of exposure to abused substances are encoded and maintained by nerve cells.

Addiction silences synapses in reward circuits

August 2, 2016
In addiction, cues in the environment can form strong associations with the drug of abuse. A new study in Biological Psychiatry suggests that alterations in silent synapses, inactive connections between neurons, could be ...

Carrots and sticks fail to change behaviour in cocaine addiction

June 16, 2016
People who are addicted to cocaine are particularly prone to developing habits that render their behaviour resistant to change, regardless of the potentially devastating consequences, suggests new research from the University ...

Recommended for you

Findings link aldosterone with alcohol use disorder

July 18, 2017
A new study led by scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, demonstrates that aldosterone, a hormone produced in the adrenal glands, may contribute ...

Depression among young teens linked to cannabis use at 18

July 17, 2017
A study looking at the cumulative effects of depression in youth, found that young people with chronic or severe forms of depression were at elevated risk for developing a problem with cannabis in later adolescence.

Why does prenatal alcohol exposure increase the likelihood of addiction?

July 7, 2017
One of the many negative consequences when fetuses are exposed to alcohol in the womb is an increased risk for drug addiction later in life. Neuroscientists in the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions are ...

Researchers say U.S. policies on drugs and addiction could use a dose of neuroscience

June 23, 2017
Tens of thousands of Americans die from drug overdoses every year – around 50,000 in 2015 – and the number has been steadily climbing for at least the last decade and a half, according to the National Institute on Drug ...

Study provides further support for genetic factors underlying addictions

June 13, 2017
Impairment of a particular gene raises increases susceptibility to opioid addiction liability as well as vulnerability to binge eating according to a new study.

From pill to needle: Prescription opioid epidemic may be increasing drug injection

May 8, 2017
The prescription opioid epidemic is shrinking the time it used to take drug users to progress to drug injection, a new Keck School of Medicine of USC-led study suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.