Scientists One Step Closer To Cocaine ‘Cure’
For decades, cocaine addiction has ravaged lives across the U.S. And though recovery treatment has helped make a dent in the amount of usage over the years, scientists have never given up on the notion of finding a “miracle cure.” Well this past week, news via The Independent offered some promising updates with an article about researchers who have discovered a potential antidote for those heavily dependent on the drug.
For the past several months, a team of psychiatry professors from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have been conducting tests on cocaine addicted laboratory mice and witnessed some promising results. The researchers found that they could decrease appetites for the drug by neutralizing a protein molecule which is found in the brain and blood.
The key finding had to do with the identification of the protein molecule called G-CSF. Through their research, the psychiatrists were able to link this directly with the cranial “nucleus acumbens” (where the reward centers are housed). When the mice were injected with more of this molecule, they saw a significant increase in the cocaine seeking behavior.
Even better news was the fact that safe treatments already exist to target these molecules in humans. Interestingly, the G-CSF combat agents had previously been linked to fighting infections after chemotherapy. Now though, the Icahn team is hoping to gain approvals to test it beyond the mice.
“The results of this study are exciting because outside of 12-step programmes and psychotherapy, no medication-assisted therapy exists to treat cocaine addiction,” lead researcher Dr Drew Kiraly told The Independent.
When tested at Icahn, the research team found that G-CSF treatments abruptly deadened the mice’s motivation to seek out cocaine. Better yet, other cranial reward centers were not impacted by the tests. Though the cocaine appetite lessened, there was a still a normal desire to seek out other pleasurable substances (such as sugar water).
Dr. Kiraly seemed very upbeat about taking these trials to the next level, specifically after ruling out the dangers that a potential “cocaine cure” could exhibit.
“Treatment with a G-CSF modulator would have the distinct advantage that it may be harnessed to reduce drug taking while ostensibly having no abuse potential on its own—a known confound in many previous trials for psychostimulant use disorders,” Dr. Kiraly concluded. “Once we clarify how it can best be targeted to reduce addiction-like behaviors, there is a high possibility that treatments targeting G-CSF could be translated into clinical trials and treatments for patients.”