Addiction to cocaine can be debilitating. Though there are certain therapies and programs that can treat cocaine dependence, the need of the hour is to develop more treatment modalities to overcome the problem. Claiming to have found a new way to treat cocaine addiction, researchers from Mont Sinai Medical Centre in New York said that neutralizing a newly identified protein molecule called G-CSF can reduce the need for cocaine considerably.
The protein, which triggers cocaine-seeking behavior in mice, works in the brain’s reward center and can be found in abundance in the brain and blood of habituated cocaine users. It can be neutralized by administering drugs that have already proven fruitful in humans. A successful implementation of this procedure will confront the biological driving force of drug-consuming behavior, thereby introducing greater effectiveness in the current treatment procedures.
Changes in G-CSF levels did not affect inclinations to other treats
When testing the treatment method that neutralizes G-CSF, scientists found that it significantly lessened the motivation to seek the drug. More importantly, the experiment showed that changes in G-CSF levels only affected the perceived appetite for cocaine, and that there were no changes in the mice’s inclination to other treats like sugary water—with similar effects of stimulating the reward centers in the brain.
“The results of this study are exciting because outside of the 12-step program and psychotherapy, no medication-assisted therapy exists to treat cocaine addiction,” said lead researcher Dr. Drew Kiraly, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The findings, published in the Nature Communications, showed that G-CSF treated mice tried very hard to seek more cocaine when the researchers lowered the strength of each dose.
Dr. Kiraly further added that there are already safe treatments in the market targeting this particular molecule in humans, mainly to kick-start production of infection combating cells after chemotherapy. “Drugs that manipulate G-CSF already exist as Food and Drug Administration-approved medications,” he said.
Findings would augment substance abuse treatment
The study confirmed that a host of reasons, like side effects, modes of delivery and abuse potential of tested agents, belittled addiction treatments. Hence, this current finding may help in overcoming these handicaps.
In the field of addiction treatment, patients often have to deal with a perpetual risk of trading one addictive substance with another. However, the findings of this study prove otherwise. The study authors said that treatment with a G-CSF modulator came with an advantage that, “it may be harnessed to reduce drug taking while ostensibly having no abuse potential of its own—a known confound in many previous trials for psychostimulant use disorders.”
Kiraly further mentioned that once it becomes clear how to best target addictive behavior, there are increased chances of treatments that target G-CSF, translating them into clinical trials and effective treatment programs for patients thereafter. Yet, there is a long way to go before these findings can be applied to humans, said Dr. Kiraly. The positive aspect is that there are immense possibilities in the future of addiction treatments.
Dealing with cocaine addiction
Addiction to cocaine is a scourge, but timely treatment can reverse the effects. If you have someone in the family addicted to cocaine, seek treatment from credible cocaine addiction treatment centers immediately.
Sovereign Health is the leading substance abuse treatment provider in the U.S. with comprehensive cocaine addiction treatment programs for patients. Get in touch with our 24/7 helpline members or chat online with our representatives for further information.