New target could be key to beating back methamphetamine addiction

As bad as cocaine addiction can be for many, methamphetamine addiction can take hold even more quickly and ruin a patient's health in horrible ways. The heart, the aging process and even sperm production aren't immune to the drug's wrath.

That's why successful treatment for methamphetamine addiction is increasingly important. And so the fact that scientists at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto have identified a potential target for anti-craving medications is encouraging.

Details are published in the latest issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. Here are the basic facts: Scientists led by Isabelle Boileau of CAMH's imaging center using positron emission tomography brain scans and a chemical probe developed at CAMH found that the probe bound at high levels to the dopamine D3 receptor in some people addicted to methamphetamine, compared with patients without any addiction. Patients also had a rate of craving for the drug based on their D3 levels, with a higher level appearing in folks with a greater craving. They evaluated 16 patients addicted to methamphetamine, and the same number with no addiction.

Drug targets are key to finding treatments for all kinds of diseases, including addiction. But addiction is very hard to treat. And the findings are early. Scientists said they must explore more how D3 receptors are related to addiction to stimulants, though they appear to have some connection to craving.

Until now, D2 receptors have been a more common target for researchers focused on stimulant addiction.

Some of the more prominent research in this space has focused on anti-addiction vaccines.

- here's the release

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