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Research offers new approach to developing treatments for cocaine and amphetamine addiction

NORTH CHICAGO, ILL. (September 28, 2005) -- A methamphetamine epidemic rages across the United States with addicts blinded by uncontrollable desires for a drug that eventually thrusts them into a dire and catastrophic existence. Doctors don't have any effective treatments for these addicts, or for any other drug addicts; drug addiction is a disease that remains a medical mystery. A recent study led by Pastor R. Couceyro, PhD, at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science and colleagues at Amgen sheds new light on the causes of drug addiction, and opens the possibility for new treatments in the future. These researchers have identified a brain neurotransmitter that is important for the pleasurable, and possibly addictive, effects of stimulant drugs like methamphetamine.

The study shows that highly addictive drugs, like cocaine and amphetamine, require a neurotransmitter called CART (Cocaine- and Amphetamine-Regulated Transcript) peptides to produce their maximal effects. Mice that were genetically engineered to lack CART peptides showed a dramatic insensitivity to the immediate and chronic effects of these drugs, suggesting that the pleasurable and perhaps addictive effects of cocaine, amphetamine, and other stimulants, like methamphetamine, require CART peptides. The study will appear in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics in December 2005 and is currently available online at http://jpet.aspetjournals.org/cgi/reprint/jpet.105.091678v1.

In this study, mice lacking CART peptides were created by deleting or "knocking out" the CART gene. These knockout mice were subjected to tests that measure the abuse liability of cocaine and amphetamine. The responses of CART knockout mice to these drugs were compared to those of control mice that had CART peptides. The immediate hyperactivity produced by amphetamine, as well as the dramatic hypersensitivity that
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Contact: Kathy Peterson
kathy.peterson@rosalindfranklin.edu
847-578-8344
Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science
28-Sep-2005


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