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Hope for treating relapse to methamphetamine abuse
Date:11/13/2008

UPTON, NY A new study at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory suggests that vigabatrin (a.k.a. gamma vinyl-GABA, or GVG) blocks drug-seeking behavior in animals previously trained to associate methamphetamine with a particular environment. Specifically, animals pre-treated with vigabatrin lost interest in spending time in a location where they had previously been given methamphetamine. The results will appear in the February 2009 issue of Synapse, now available online.

"Reinstatement of drug-seeking behavior after an extended period of abstinence is the number-one cause of drug-addiction relapse," said Brookhaven neuroanatomist Stephen Dewey, who led the research team. "This animal study suggests that vigabatrin could potentially prevent human methamphetamine addicts from relapsing."

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, methamphetamine is a very addictive stimulant that is quickly becoming an American public health epidemic. There is currently no effective treatment for methamphetamine addiction.

Vigabatrin is a pharmaceutical agent first tested as a possible treatment for a variety of addictions in animal studies led by Dewey at Brookhaven Lab (http://www.bnl.gov/CTN/GVG/). It is the only drug that has been shown to block any behavior associated with methamphetamine use, and is currently being tested by Catalyst Pharmaceutical Partners (http://www.catalystpharma.com/) for safety and efficacy against cocaine and methamphetamine addiction in humans in Phase II clinical trials across the U.S.

"In human drug abusers, many things can cause relapse exposure or access to drugs, environmental cues that trigger thoughts of the drug, or stress," said Dewey. "If vigabatrin can prevent relapse, it could have a huge impact by helping drug abusers regain control over their lives."

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Contact: Karen McNulty Walsh
kmcnulty@bnl.gov
631-344-8350
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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