Epilepsy Drug Found To Stop Cocaine's Effects In Animals

Stops Brain Chemical Linked To 'High'
Clinical Trials Planned

UPTON, NY -- An inexpensive epilepsy drug may prove to be a highly effective pharmaceutical treatment for cocaine addiction. In addition, preliminary data suggests that it may be useful for the treatment of other addictions.

That is the conclusion of animal studies published today in the journal Synapse by scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and their colleagues from St. John's University, New York University, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Boston University.

The team showed that the epilepsy drug gamma vinyl-GABA, or GVG, blocked cocaine's effect in the brains of primates, including the process that causes a 'high' feeling in humans.

GVG also significantly decreased the amount of time that rodents spent in areas where they had previously received cocaine. Such behavior is important in human drug addiction.

But GVG did not stop animals' routine functions such as learning, eating and moving; nor did it cause other obvious side effects.

"We are extremely excited about our results," said Stephen Dewey, the BNL neuroanatomist who led the research team. "After all, more than a decade of hard work went into these findings. If this can do for humans what it did for animals, we may have opened the door for addicts around the world to kick their habit and for society to stop the costly cycle of addiction, violence and wasted lives. My colleagues and I are unaware of any other drug that has looked as promising."

Later this year, Brookhaven and NYU plan to begin a clinical trial to test GVG's effect on volunteer human cocaine addicts. Other institutions are also planning clinical trials.

The animal research was sponsored by DOE's Office of Energy Research and the National Institute of Mental Health, with involvement by the National

Contact: Kara Villamil
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory

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