New Potential for Anti-Addiction Medication
April 25th, 2012
According to a recent study funded by the National Institute of Health, a new medication for drug addiction is on its way as researchers learn more about another opioid receptor subtype in the brain known as the kappa opioid receptor (KOR). KOR is the only known opioid receptor which counteracts a drug’s pleasurable effects, making it valuable in the development of anti-addiction medications. Many current medications are designed to act on other opioid receptors which are associated with chemical dependence. However, the kappa opioid receptor treats addiction, pain, and mental illness without having its own addictive characteristics, making it particularly useful for those struggling to kick addictions to other drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow states, “This research could aid in the development of effective medications for the treatment of drug addiction, particularly to stimulants like cocaine, for which there are no medications currently available. It may also be valuable for the development of safer pain medications.”
This study looks at the effect of the antagonist called JDTic on kappa opioid receptors since this compound has had success in treating cocaine relapse in test subjects. Using high-resolution models, scientists examined how and why JDTic binds to the KOR. Using this information, researchers are hoping to introduce new, low-risk approaches to anti-addiction medication.