Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia found that a drug called exendin-4 decreased cocaine-seeking behavior in addicted rats during withdrawal.
They report their findings in a paper that is now published in Neuropsychopharmacology.
According to a 2014 survey, around 913,000 users of cocaine now meet the criteria for dependence or abuse in the United States.
One of the biggest challenges that cocaine users face in kicking the habit is relapse, which occurs in 40–60 percent of cases.
Cocaine relapse is a “significant public health concern,” note the study authors, and as yet, there are no effective approved treatments.
“Our goal as basic scientists,” explains senior study author Heath D. Schmidt, a research assistant professor of psychiatry working in the University of Pennsylvania, “is to use animal models of relapse to identify novel medications to treat cocaine addiction.”