University of Florida-led researchers recently identified a method of hindering the brain’s “reward” receptors’ response to methamphetamine use by using medicines already on the market.
While no Food and Drug Administration-approved remedies currently target methamphetamine use, UF’s Habibeh Khoshbouei and her colleagues found that by working with a sigma-1 receptor agonist such as Prozac, scientists can alter the activity levels of dopamine neurons in the brain that are released during pleasurable activities, according to a university press release. Dopamine levels are strongly affected by meth use.
“Our data show that there are drugs already approved for other conditions by the Food and Drug Administration that can help methamphetamine addiction,” Khoshbouei said regarding the potential for addiction treatment.
Using a mouse model, the team observed that a small dose of a sigma-1 receptor inhibits the usual uptick of dopamine activity associated with methamphetamine drug intake. Based on their results, researchers believe that existing medications such as antidepressants and antihistamines such as fluvoxamine and dextromethorphan, respectively, could be adapted for human clinical trials.
Khoshbouei said the substance’s overwhelmingly addictive properties are tied to the excessive levels of dopamine release and side effects such as psychosis.
Preventing that “could really help people to beat their addiction,” she said.