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Anti-Epilepsy Drug to Be Tested for Reducing Cocaine Addiction

TREATMENT

September-October 1998

Researchers are experimenting with Gamma vinyl-GABA (GVG) as a possible treatment for cocaine addiction (Anita Manning, "Drug could mute effects of cocaine," USA Today, August 5, 1998, p. A1; Anita Manning, "Scientists seek human subjects for cocaine-blocking drug," USA Today, August 5, 1998, p. 6D; Verena Dobnick, "Human Testing Expected on Anti-Addiction Drug GVG," Santa Maria Times (CA), August 6, 1998, p. D2).

Stephen Dewey, a researcher at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, says GVG has shown promise in treating addiction to cocaine among animals. Results of his tests on rats and monkeys were published in the journal Synapse (Stephen L. Dewey, et al., "A Novel Strategy for the Treatment of Cocaine Addiction," Synapse, Vol. 30 (1998), pp. 119-129) and announced at the New York Academy of Science. Dewey plans to commence the next phase of the trials - using GVG on human subjects - this fall.

GVG is currently used to treat epilepsy in Europe. Dewey said that GVG reduces the level of dopamine in the brain which reduces the pleasure resulting from cocaine use. "You would no longer crave cocaine, because the pleasure would be gone," he said.

Alan Leshner of the National Institute on Drug Abuse hailed the research, saying, "Advances in science over the past couple of decades have revolutionized our understanding of addiction. We no longer have to look to medications that are just substitutes for addicting (drugs), and we no longer have to screen 1,000 compounds and pray like mad that something hits."

Stephen Dewey - Brookhaven National Laboratory, P.O. Box 5000, Bldg. 555-A, Upton, New York 11973-5000., Tel: (516) 344-8000, ext. 3444395.

Dr. Alan Leshner - NIDA, 5600 Fishers Lane, Room 10-05, Rockville, MD 20857, Tel: (301) 443-6480, Fax: (301) 443-9127, E-mail: <al16m@nih.gov>.