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Animal research suggests new strategy for treating cocaine addiction
Date:4/6/2008

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. New research in monkeys suggests the feasibility of treating cocaine addiction with a replacement drug that mimics the effects of cocaine but has less potential for abuse similar to the way nicotine and heroin addictions are treated.

Reporting at the annual meeting of the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics in San Diego, Calif., scientists from Wake Forest University School of Medicine said treating monkeys with amphetamine significantly reduced their self-administration of cocaine for up to a month.

This suggests the possibility of developing an amphetamine-like drug for treating cocaine addiction, said Paul Czoty, Ph.D., lead author and assistant professor of physiology and pharmacology. The research also demonstrates the usefulness for conducting studies in monkeys to test potential treatments.

Czoty said the quest to develop a treatment for cocaine addiction has been ongoing for decades with little success. While we have medications for heroin and tobacco abuse, there is no FDA-approved treatment for cocaine, he said.

With both heroin and tobacco, there are treatments to replace the addictive drug with a drug that has similar effects on the body, but with less potential for abuse.

With this strategy in mind, clinical researchers have turned to drugs currently available, including amphetamines, said Czoty. While its unlikely that amphetamine itself will turn out to be the best treatment, these drugs allow us to prove the concept of using a replacement drug to combat cocaine addiction.

Amphetamines have been used in clinical studies with some success, said Czoty. His research in monkeys may help identify the best dose and schedule for administering a replacement drug as well as evaluate potential treatment candidates and estimate potential side effects.

For the study, a monkey was taught to press levers multiple times to obtain food or a cocaine
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Contact: Karen Richardson
krchrdsn@wfubmc.edu
336-716-4453
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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