A new study from the University at Buffalo provides strong evidence of a novel compound that treats cocaine addiction. The compound targets an important brain receptor that has a drastic effect against many cocaine behaviors, including relapsing behavior.
The compound – called RO5263397 for now – targets the brain receptor TAAR 1, which is expressed in specific drug reward and addiction regions of the brain. TAAR 1 is activated by miniscule amounts of brain chemicals called trace amines.
“This is the first systematic study to convincingly show that RO5263397 has the potential to treat cocaine addiction,” said Jun-Xu Li, MD, PhD, senior author and assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
“Our research shows that trace amine associated receptor 1 – TAAR 1—holds great promise as a novel drug target for the development of novel medications for cocaine addiction,” he said.
Li explained that since TAAR 1 is closely related to dopamine, both anatomically and neurochemically, drugs that stimulate this receptor could offset cocaine addiction.
In the study, performed a conditioned place preference test in animals to investigate the animal’s tenacity in returning to, or staying at, a physical location where the drug was given, is interpreted as indicating that the drug has rewarding effects.
When the rats were given RO5263397, “they no longer perceive[d] cocaine rewarding, suggesting that the primary effect that drives cocaine addiction in humans has been blunted.”
The University at Buffalo hope to investigate the effectiveness and mechanisms RO5263397 uses to stall relapsing behavior.