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Plant could treat cocaine addiction

An experimental drug for alcoholism could also be used to treat cocaine addiction, a report has claimed.

Researchers from Gilead Sciences, writing in the journal Nature Medicine, said an extract of the kudzu vine could one day be used to fight both problems.

The claim was made after tests on rats showed the drug could stop the rodents from giving themselves cocaine. It also helped prevent relapse.

The medication, an aldehyde dehydrogenase-2 inhibitor, works by raising levels of a compound called tetrahydropapaveroline, or THP, which interferes with cocaine cravings.

“There is no effective treatment for cocaine addiction despite extensive knowledge of the neurobiology of drug addiction,” said the researchers.

“We propose that a safe, selective, reversible ALDH-2 inhibitor such as ALDH2i may have the potential to attenuate human cocaine addiction and prevent relapse.”

Gilead inherited the drug last year when it acquired CV Therapeutics Inc.

A spokesman for the company said it was working to try to bring the medication to market.

Copyright Press Association 2010

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