In February of this year, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that an already FDA approved drug may be an answer to those individuals who are struggling with cocaine addiction. The drug, Byetta, is currently used for those who struggle with obesity and have Type-2 diabetes. Byetta is derived from a natural hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). Past studies have shown similarities in the brain’s neural circuits when it comes to eating and using drugs. Matthew Hayes of the Nursing and Psychiatry school at UPenn tested this by comparing a high-calorie, more palatable chow to rats’ normal chow. The result was that when certain GLP-1 receptors in the brain were activated, intake of the more palatable meal decreased, while there was no change with the more basic chow.
A Link Between Cocaine and Food
From the end results of that test, researchers hypothesized that if the GLP-1 receptors are able to regulate food, maybe they will do the same when it comes to cocaine. The tested this theory for two and a half years with the use of rats. Just as humans would use cocaine in the doses they prefer, the rats would have a lever to press that administered the cocaine to them. When the cocaine had thoroughly been administered to the rats, the GLP-1 agonist was was presented to the brain. By the end of the experiment, they found their hypothesis to be true. Whenever the GLP-1 receptors were activated in the part of the brain that regulates reward-related behavior, the rats used less cocaine. Physiologically, the GLP-1 receptors in human brains act similarly to the receptors in rats brains.
More Research is Needed
The next step for the researchers is to see the pathway that the cocaine takes once it has entered the brain. While human testing is still many steps away, the upside to this is that Byetta is already an FDA approved drug. The majority of physicians have likely not only heard of it, but prescribed it to their patients. Therefore, if in time it is proven to be effective in the reduction of cocaine use and abuse it will not be difficult for physicians to put it into action. But for now, we will wait to see what further research holds for us and only hope that we are a step closer to helping those with an addiction.
Help is Available
If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction call Serenity Acres today, at 1-800-203-2024.