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Cocaine and other drugs of abuse hijack the natural reward circuits in the brain. In part, that’s why it’s so hard to quit using these substances. Moreover, relapse rates hover between 40 and 60 percent, similar to rates for other chronic conditions like hypertension and Type 1 diabetes.

University of Pennsylvania behavioral pharmacologist and neuroscientist Heath Schmidt studies how long-term exposure to drugs such as cocaine, nicotine, and prescription opioids affects the brain and how these changes promote relapse in someone who has kicked the habit. A recent paper, published in the Nature journal Neuropsychopharmacology, investigated a novel treatment for cocaine addiction, something that touches 900,000 people in the United States annually.

“As a basic scientist I’m interested in how the brain functions during periods of abstinence from cocaine and other drugs and how neuro-adaptations in the brain promote relapse back to chronic taking,” he explains. “From the clinicians’ perspective, they’re looking for medications to try to prevent relapse. Our goal as basic scientists is to use animal models of relapse to identify novel medications to treat cocaine addiction.”

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FDA-approved drugs to treat diabetes and obesity may reduce cocaine relapse and help addicted people break the habit

The green fluorescent ‘dots’ above show where Exendin-4, an FDA-approved drug used to treat diabetes and obesity, ends up in the brain. The drug activates receptors for glucagon-like peptide 1 or GLP-1, a hormone that reduces food intake. The blue and red coloring indicate neurons and astrocytes, respectively. Credit: University of Pennsylvania

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Click link below for article:

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-04-fda-approved-drugs-diabetes-obesity-cocaine.html

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