ADJUSTING ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION Another team of researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia believe the FDA-approved drug pindolol could be used to stop alcohol abuse. Pindolol is an anti-hypertensive medication used to treat high blood pressure. But because of the way it interacts with neurotransmitters in the brain, they believe it could also be eective in treating alcohol use disorders (AUDs). To study the drug’s eect, the team used mice and exposed them to an alcohol consumption regimen similar to a binge drinking cycle common in humans. For mice also given pindolol, the team found they were able to reduce drinking in the long term (after at least 12 weeks).e team did not see as positive of results in the short term (only four weeks), but they say they’re still excited about its potential uses. “Although further mechanistic investigations are required, this study demonstrates the potential of pindolol as a new treatment option for AUDs that can be fast-tracked into human clinical studies,” the authors wrote.
espite years of stigma, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is steadily gaining in popularity among treatment providers. Government groups like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are actively campaigning to get more providers to oer MAT as a potentially vital resource for patients. While such groups often promote well-known medications such as methadone and buprenorphine, drug researchers are looking for new medications that could be a lifeline to patients in need. But new medications can cost millions to research and take years to get on the market.at’s why some researchers are taking a closer look, and nding success, with drugs already approved by the FDA. CURBING COCAINE USE Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania say a drug already on the market for diabetes may be able to curb cocaine use.e FDA-approved drug Byetta, used to regulate blood sugar in diabetic patients, is derived from a natural hormone known as GLP-1.e research team looked at how the hormone functioned in rats and found that the same hormone that regulates food intake could be used to suppress cocaine consumption. “ese results are very provocative and suggest these compounds could be repurposed for drug addiction,” says Dr. Heath Schmidt, one of the lead researchers. “We have seen a reduction in cocaine consumption…but it doesn’t completely abolish it.” Currently, there is no FDA-approved drug for the treatment of cocaine abuse. But because Byetta and a similar drug have already gained federal approval, researchers say that leaves fewer hurdles before they could be used in treatment settings. Although still far from human trials, researchers say they’re optimistic, especially because their research suggests the hormone is not specic to cocaine and could be used in treatment of other substance abuse disorders. “I think this opens up a large world view with regards to this system in the brain,” Dr. Schmidt says. “ere’s really a lot to be explored here and I think it’s really an exciting time to be in the eld and exploring the GLP-1 system.”
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