Type 2 Diabetes Drug Could Be Effective Against Stimulant Addiction
According to Vanderbilt University researchers, published as a Letter to the Editor of the journal Molecular Psychiatry, a drug used against type 2 diabetes could also be a treatment for drug addiction.
Gregg Stanwood, Ph.D., assistant professor of Pharmacology and an investigator within the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and Vanderbilt Brain Institute, writes:
"We found that this drug called Exendin-4 that is already used for the medical management of diabetes, reduces the rewarding effects of cocaine in animals. We suspect that this is a general mechanism that will translate to additional drugs of abuse, especially other stimulants like amphetamine and methamphetamine."
Exendin-4 is currently FDA-approved for diabetes and marketed under the names Byetta and Bydureon.
Co-author Aurelio Galli, Ph.D., professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and Vanderbilt Brain Institute investigator and the co-director of the Neuroscience Program in Substance Abuse (N-PISA) at Vanderbilt University, adds:
"I think the power of this research is that it is so easily translatable to humans because it is already FDA approved. This is the first indication that it will work on psychostimulants. So our studies offer immediate translational opportunities to improve outcomes in human abusers. Any disease that is based on dysregulated dopamine can be potentially targeted. There is a lot of co-morbidity between metabolic disorders like diabetes and obesity and psychiatric disease like addiction and schizophrenia."
Hope for successful treatment
Lacking any other treatments for addiction to the likes of stimulants, this offers some hope for clinicians and addicts. Importantly, though, the research supporting their statements is derived from animal studies only and has not been tested in humans.
Researchers stressed that this is not envisioned as some "magic bullet where one can simply take this drug and their addiction goes away," but it has the potential to be used in conjunction with other methods to make overcoming drug addiction more successful.