Off the hook

AN EPILEPSY drug could be used to treat addiction, say scientists in the US. Stephen Dewey of the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York and his colleagues used PET scans to measure dopamine in baboons’ brains while they were intoxicated with cocaine. They found that dopamine levels in the nucleus acumbens, the part of the brain associated with addiction, dropped by 40 per cent after they administered the epilepsy drug gamma vinyl-GABA ( Synapse, vol 30, p 119). The baboons also stopped visiting their cocaine pick-up point. Dewey believes the drug will help curb addictive urges of all kinds, including those associated with heroin and nicotine, but cautions that it would not solve the psychological problems of addiction. “We certainly don’t think it’s a magic pill,
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