Danish researchers close to developing cocaine addiction ‘antidote’

13 Jan 2015

Danish researchers say they are one step away from developing what they claim could be a medical treatment for those who have an addiction to the drug cocaine.

The team from the University of Copenhagen have been analysing the natural mechanism that acts as a protein dopamine transporter and its function as one that shuts off dopamine from the bloodstream so as to regulate its effect on the human body.

Dopamine is commonly known as the ‘natural high’ that is designed to reward the body when engaging in pleasurable activities and as a result, addictions are attributed to a lack of dopamine regulation within the body.

According to new results published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, they have been able to pin-point the ‘gate’ which stops the dopamine from engaging with the protein which gives the pleasurable feeling, in the form of two amino acids.

The only remaining mystery to be solved was that while other stimulants and inhibitors were found to act almost identical to the binding that would occur with the two amino acids to form the gate, tests on rats were found to show it worked much more effectively than when using cocaine.

Professor Claus Juul Loland from the department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology at the university said of the research, “If we have a better understanding of the dopamine transporter function we will become more proficient in developing an antidote against cocaine addiction.”

Cocaine addiction image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic