Treating Addiction By Eliminating Drug-Associated Memories

Philadelphia, PA, April 23, 2009 – Addicts, even those who have been abstinent for long periods of time, are often still vulnerable to their own memories of prior drug use. For example, exposure to the same environment in which they commonly used drugs – a contextual memory – can increase their craving for the drug dramatically and can lead to relapse.

A new study in the April 15th issue of Biological Psychiatry, published by Elsevier, has evaluated a novel compound that may ease the power of those memories.

“In this study, we found that after repeatedly giving cocaine injections to rats within a particular environment, the rats developed a strong preference for that environment over another environment where a placebo was given,” explains M. Foster Olive, Ph.D., co-author and senior investigator. “Next, we treated the animals with an experimental drug called CDPPB, and found that it decreased the rats' preference for the cocaine-associated environment during subsequent tests.”

This is a process called extinction learning, whereby the compound helps the brain to create new associations instead of retrieving the old associations, in this case between the cocaine and the environment. Dr. Olive also notes that this promising finding may aid the development of new therapeutic treatments that could be used in conjunction with exposure therapy, a technique used to desensitize individuals to stimuli that invoke negative responses or emotions.

John Krystal, M.D., Editor of Biological Psychiatry agrees and hopes that these findings can be expanded to other areas of work. “It will be interesting to see whether this approach extends to the treatment of cocaine abuse or other addictions. Further, it will be important to see whether mGluR5 agonists [like CDPPD] might play a role in the treatment of the extinction of other forms of maladaptive learning, such as the traumatic memories associated with posttraumatic stress disorder.”

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Notes to Editors:
The article is “Positive Allosteric Modulation of mGluR5 Receptors Facilitates Extinction of a Cocaine Contextual Memory” by Justin T. Gass and M. Foster Olive. The authors are affiliated with the Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina. The article appears in Biological Psychiatry, Volume 65, Issue 8 (April 15, 2009), published by Elsevier. The authors’ disclosures of financial and conflicts of interests are available in the article.

John H. Krystal, M.D. is affiliated with both Yale University School of Medicine and the VA Connecticut Healthcare System and his disclosures of financial and conflicts of interests are available here

Full text of the article mentioned above is available upon request. Contact Jayne M. Dawkins at ja.dawkins@elsevier.com to obtain a copy or to schedule an interview.

About Biological Psychiatry
This international rapid-publication journal is the official journal of the Society of Biological Psychiatry. It covers a broad range of topics in psychiatric neuroscience and therapeutics. Both basic and clinical contributions are encouraged from all disciplines and research areas relevant to the pathophysiology and treatment of major neuropsychiatric disorders. Full-length and Brief Reports of novel results, Commentaries, Case Studies of unusual significance, and Correspondence and Comments judged to be of high impact to the field are published, particularly those addressing genetic and environmental risk factors, neural circuitry and neurochemistry, and important new therapeutic approaches. Concise Reviews and Editorials that focus on topics of current research and interest are also published rapidly.

Biological Psychiatry is ranked 4th out of the 95 Psychiatry titles and 16th out of 199 Neurosciences titles on the 2006 ISI Journal Citations Reports® published by Thomson Scientific.

About Elsevier

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Media Contact:
Jayne Dawkins
Elsevier
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Ja.dawkins@elsevier.com