Diabetes Medication could Treat Drug Addiction
The new findings show that the part of the brain targeted by the medication appears to be related to certain types of drug addiction.
"What we have demonstrated is that a brain mechanism already known to be therapeutic for the treatment of diabetes also appears to be implicated in at least certain types of drug addiction," said Gregg Stanwood, Ph.D., assistant professor of Pharmacology and an investigator within the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and Vanderbilt Brain Institute.
The drug, which is called Exendit-4, actually decreases the rewarding feelings of cocaine in animals. The scientists believe that this may also reduce rewards from drugs like amphetamine and methamphetine. If successful, this would give treatment centres a new and effective weapon against the scourge of meth.
"There are no medically based therapies for stimulant addiction that have been successful in the clinic although there are a variety of psychosocial and behavioral therapies that are somewhat effective in some people," Stanwood said. "The beauty of this is that it targets a completely new mechanism so we are cautiously hopeful that the field will be able to exploit this, to provide a pharmacological way to help patients combat the disorder.”
This drug has already been approved by the FDA in the USA which means it has passed a number of clinical trials. This could help expedite its rollout and wider use. It also means the drug has gone into wider production and could be made readily available much sooner than a new and untested medication.
"I think the power of this research is that it is so easily translatable to humans because it is already FDA approved," said Galli, also co-director of the Neuroscience Program in Substance Abuse (N-PISA) at Vanderbilt University. "This is the first indication that it will work on psychostimulants. So our studies offer immediate translational opportunities to improve outcomes in human abusers."Continued on the next page