Research indicates that a common heart drug may reduce cocaine cravings

Feb 27, 2008

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School have found that diltiazem, a drug used in the treatment of high blood pressure, reduces cocaine cravings in a rat model. These findings will appear in the March issue of the leading medical journal Nature Neuroscience.

Previous work showed that two brain chemicals, dopamine and glutamate, independently contribute to the development of cocaine addiction. This new research indicates that calcium channels provide critical links between dopamine and glutamate that drives the intense craving associated with cocaine addiction. Diltiazem, one of a class of drugs known as calcium channel blockers, disrupts the connection between dopamine and glutamate formed during chronic cocaine use.

According to the researchers, brain calcium plays an important role in learning and memory in that calcium influences an enzyme known as the “memory molecule.” “Our work shows that cocaine increases the levels of this molecule specifically in a brain area that controls motivation. Thus, cocaine use teaches the brain to be addicted, resulting in a dysfunctional form of learning that drives the overwhelming desire to consume more cocaine,” said senior author Chris Pierce, a professor of pharmacology and psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine.

Currently, there are no effective drug therapies for cocaine addiction. Pierce noted that research such as this using animal models could lead to desperately needed medications. “The strength of this work is that it tells us something fundamental about how brain chemistry changes as cocaine addiction takes hold. Importantly, our findings also suggest new strategies for developing cocaine addiction therapies, which thus far remain elusive,” he added.

Source: Boston University

Explore further: Nerve cells and blood vessels in eye 'talk' to prevent disease, study finds

Related Stories

Claims about the decline of the West are 'exaggerated'

2 hours ago

A new paper by Oxford researchers argues that some countries in Western Europe, and the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand now have birth rates that are now relatively close to replacement, that the underlying trend in ...

Norway tests out 'animal rights cops'

3 hours ago

Norwegian police is creating a unit to investigate cruelty to animals, the government said Monday, arguing that those who hurt animals often harm people too.

Recommended for you

Inaccurate reporting jeopardizing clinical trials

Apr 26, 2015

The team led by Dr Sheena Cruickshank of the Faculty of Life Sciences and Professor Andy Brass from the School of Computer Science analysed 58 papers on research into inflammatory bowel disease published between 2000 and ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.