Addiction comes in many forms, and there’s a specific treatment for each kind. However, a recent study discovered that an experimental drug designed to suppress appetite in diabetic patients may also work wonders for people addicted to cocaine.
Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania described via a news release how the drug Byetta may be the key to inhibiting a person’s cocaine addiction. The drug is extracted from glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-), a natural human hormone associated with feeding preference and reward.
The original design of the diabetes drug was to help the patient prefer a healthier but less tasty food. The researchers inferred that the effect of GLP-1 on appetite for food might also reflect in terms of a person’s likelihood to prefer cocaine use.
The revelation was confirmed through a series of lab tests on mice whose GLP-1 brain receptors were activated. The change in the rat’s brains led them to prefer cocaine less. “We’re looking at what activation of GLP-1 receptors in the VTA does to the animal’s self-administration of cocaine… We were able to show a nice decrease in cocaine self-administration,” said study lead author Heath Schmidt.
The drug has already received FDA approval, but there’s no go signal for any human trials yet. However, the team — composed of representatives from the university’s School of Nursing and Perelman School of Medicine — is confident that their findings could prove useful in investigating the key to discovering how the brain forms any kind of addiction. “Our interest is really to understand how chronic exposure to drugs of abuse changes the brain to produce addiction-like behaviors,” Schmidt added.
The study was published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.