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Fruit flies reveal promising drug candidates for treating cocaine use disorder


The data among people 12 and older showing more than 165 million people in the US using some sort of substances (i.e. tobacco, alcohol, kratom, or an illicit drug) in 2019 suggests that substance use disorder (SUD) is a growing public health problem. Unlike the availability of some medications for opioid use disorder and alcohol use disorder, since we lack an effective medication for stimulant use disorders, including cocaine use disorder, the news that researchers were able to use an innovative computational approach to identify a generic drug that could be repurposed to treat cocaine toxicity is exciting.


By analyzing the gene expression data from post-mortem human brain tissues from 71 individuals, 36 of whom died from a cocaine overdose, and then using the NIH Library of Integrated Network-Based Cellular Signatures (LINCS) L1000 database to identify potential drug candidates, scientists from Emory University were able to identify IBRUTINIB, a drug commonly used to treat cancer, as a potential candidate for treating cocaine toxicity.


They reported that the genes that were highly expressed in the brains of cocaine users were expressed at low levels in neuronal cells when treated with the drug and vice versa.

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