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Scientists discover molecule to fight cocaine use

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CGP3466B: It may look like a butt-dialed text, but it's actually a molecule that could help  cocaine addicts get clean.

In a new study, scientists found that the compound stops cocaine-addicted mice from wanting the drug.

"It was remarkably serendipitous that when we learned which brain pathway cocaine acts on, we already knew of a compound, CGP3466B, that blocks that specific pathway," Dr. Solomon Snyder, a professor of neuroscience in the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine , said in a press release. "Not only did CGP3466B help confirm the details of cocaine's action, but it also may become the first drug approved to treat cocaine addiction."

While cocaine use has been declining in Amercia, a 2011 government survey found that an estimated 1.4 million people aged 12 or older still are using the drug.

Cocaine gets people high by stimulating the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. The chemical controller of pleasure and movement, dopamine normally is released by nerve cells when a "reward" or something good is sensed. Then dopamine is reabsorbed into the cell.

Cocaine prevents dopamine from being reabsorbed, which increases the amount of dopamine and disrupts the brain's usual communication process. CGP3466B holds the promise of disrupting the pleasure that results from cocaine use by blockign the pathway it uses in the brain.

"What's exciting is that this drug works at very low doses, and it also appears only to affect this specific pathway, making it unlikely to have unwanted side effects," Dr. Risheng Xu, a PhD student at the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a press release. "We also know from Novartis' early stage clinical trials that the drug exhibits few documented side effects in people."

 
 

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