28 Mar Development of a New Drug Targets Drug Addiction
The treatment for drug addiction often centers on both group and individual therapy, training patients to identify cues associated with drug use. Patients are encouraged to explore the stimuli for their drug use and then they are equipped with tools to avoid drug use.
For some, however, therapy alone is helpful, but not effective at helping them avoid relapse long-term. Some patients find that skills learned in substance abuse treatment are difficult to implement in real-life situations. The rate of relapse is high, causing some to fall into a cycle of recovery and relapse.
A recent study provides new information about the treatment of drug addiction with a medication that may help improve outcomes for substance abuse treatment. The study was conducted by researchers from SRI International and Astraea Therapeutics.
The study was focused on the effectiveness of a drug receptor target that is a member of the class of receptors called the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). The SRI study focused on a subtype that has not been explored as fully as other subtypes, called alpha3beta4 nAChR. This subtype has been identified as playing a role in the addictive process of certain drugs, such as morphine, cocaine and nicotine.
The researchers tested the effectiveness of AT-1001, which is a type of alpha3beta4 compound that is highly selective and was developed at Astraea Therapeutics. The substance was found to be effective in disrupting the brain processes related to addiction. The drug is also effective at reducing the withdrawal symptoms associated with nicotine cessation, such as anxiety.
Addictive drugs impact the “reward circuit” in the brain, resulting in increased use of the drug. The negative effects of the drug do not, in some patients, discourage the use of the drug. The individual experiences an increase in feelings of pleasure when the brain releases neurotransmitters, and their increased activity in the brain. The main neurotransmitter involved with the use of drugs is dopamine.
The researchers believe that the introduction of a substance such as AT-1001 disrupts the alpha3beta4 nAChR process, resulting in a reduced reward response to drugs.
The authors of the study explain that there are no medications that are approved for treating addiction right now. The use of AT-1001 may be effective in disrupting the processes that are tied to the addictive properties of addictive drugs.
The findings of this study were presented at the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting. The results are thought to be promising for the development of a pharmaceutical strategy for the treatment of drug addiction.
The findings may lead to the successful development of a medication to treat drug addiction, providing substance abuse treatment centers with a new tool to help improve outcomes of their patients.
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