A drug that helps control type 2 diabetes could also be used to tackle addiction to various drugs, a new study has revealed.
Researchers from Vanderbilt University in the USA say that Exendin-4 may make it easier for people to combat their drug addiction after they found that it reduced the “rewarding effects” of cocaine in animals, regardless of the Ex-4 dose administered.
They also believe the medication, which is long-lasting version of the natural peptide hormone GLP-1, could be used to curb the addictive effects of other drugs, especially stimulants like amphetamine and methamphetamine.
“What we have demonstrated is that a brain mechanism already known to be therapeutic for the treatment of diabetes also appears to be implicated in at least certain types of drug addictio,” said Professor Gregg Stanwood, an investigator at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and Vanderbilt Brain Institute.
Currently, medication is prescribed to help patients cope with the symptoms of drug withdrawal, but there is no single drug treatment available that targets the biological mechanisms behind the addiction.
Professor Aurelio Galli, a fellow Vanderbilt Brain Institute investigator and co-author of the study, said: “I think the power of this research is that it is so easily translatable to humans because it [Exendin-4] 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.”
The findings were published online in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

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