Scientists have expressed hope for a new generation of non-addictive calming drugs in the form of valium-like substances.
These use the same dangerous “reward pathways” in the brain as heroin and cannabis, said researchers from Switzerland and the United States.
Research found that the so-called benzodiazepine drugs calm the patient by boosting action of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the same way as addictive anxiety drugs like opioids and cannabinoids.
This activates the gratification hormone dopamine in the brain. Benzodiazepines, such as Ativan, Xanax and Valium, bind to a part of the GABA, named the alpha1 sub-unit of the GABA type A receptor.
Developing similar benzodiazepines that bind to a different part may offer the same benefits without addiction, said the researchers whose report was published in the journal Nature.
Copyright Press Association 2010
Department of Health