Weight-Loss Drug a New Weapon in Opioid Epidemic?
With the exception of some recent good news about decreasing incidence of opioid poisoning in children and teens, opioid abuse in the United States shows little sign of waning. According to the CDC, more than 300,000 Americans have lost their lives to an opioid overdose over the past 15 years. But a new study out of Texas suggests that a prescription weight-loss drug might provide new treatment for opioid use disorder.
The study, led by Kathryn A. Cunningham, director of the Center for Addiction Research in the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, was published in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience. Researchers found that the drug lorcaserin not only appears to reduce the craving for self-administered doses of oxycodone in rats, but that the rats also experienced a weakened reaction to cues that previously sparked episodes of drug-taking -- the sort of cues that are often associated with relapse in both lab animals and humans.
"The effectiveness of lorcaserin in reducing oxycodone seeking and craving highlights the therapeutic potential for lorcaserin in the treatment of opioid use disorder," Prof. Cunningham noted. The team at the Center for Addiction Research plans more studies on drugs like lorcaserin in order to further understand and gauge how their research might help in the battle to reduce opioid deaths and addiction in the U.S.
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