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Researchers recast addiction as a manageable disease
Date:6/9/2014

f sense, because these circuits did not evolve for us to take drugs," said Nora D. Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. "These circuits evolved to ensure that we eat properly. What we are seeing in addiction are drugs literally hijacking systems that took millions of years of evolution. And that's why there is no surprise that we see so many similarities in the behavioral expression of compulsive overeating and loss of control and that associated with compulsive drug taking in addicted individuals."

Currently, there are a handful of pharmacological treatments for people addicted to heroin, alcohol and nicotine. Needed are new therapies to treat not only these addictions, but also addictions to substances of abuse such as cocaine and methamphetamine. It is a lament among many addiction scientists that the pipeline for new pharmacological treatments remains all but dry. "We have a paradoxical situation in which we have identified a large number of potentially very interesting molecular targets for medication development and yet pharma is not investing," says Volkow. "So, despite the great potential to reduce the burden of disease nationally and globally, the relative investments for medication development are really embarrassingly low."

Even so, there remains reason for optimism, according to Eric J. Nestler, Director of the Friedman Brain Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. "If you turn the clock back 50 or 60 years to a time before antidepressants were introduced, no one in the field would have expected such robust chemical treatments of depression," Nestler said during the roundtable discussion. "So even though some people are skeptical today about medicines for treating addiction, we should be very optimistic that we will see the day when effective treatments will be available."


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Contact: James Cohen
cohen@kavlifoundation.org
805-616-7988
The Kavli Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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