Potential new drug for cocaine addiction and overdose

Chemists are reporting development of what they term the most powerful substance ever discovered for eliminating cocaine from the body, an advance that could lead to the world's first effective medicine for fighting overdoses and addictions of the illicit drug. Their findings are scheduled for the Sept. 24 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a weekly publication.

In the new study, Chang-Guo Zhan and colleagues point out no effective anti-cocaine medication currently exists for cocaine abuse. One of the most promising approaches focuses on substances that mimic butyrylcholinesterase (BChE), a natural blood protein that helps break down and inactivate the drug, researchers say. However, natural BChE is too weak and ineffective for medical use, the researchers note.

The researchers describe design and produce the most potent, stable BChE structure ever produced. In lab studies, that form of BChE broke down, or metabolized, cocaine 2,000 times faster than the body's natural version of BChE, the scientists say, noting that reducing levels of the drug in the blood is a key to fighting overdose in humans. The substance also prevented convulsions and death when injected into mice that were given overdoses of cocaine, they note. - MTS

ARTICLE: "Most Efficient Cocaine Hydrolase Designed by Virtual Screening of Transition States"

Chang-Guo Zhan, Ph.D.
University of Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky 40536

Drinking chamomile tea may help fight complications of diabetes

Drinking chamomile tea daily with meals may help prevent the complications of diabetes, which include loss of vision, nerve damage, and kidney damage, researchers in Japan and the United Kingdom are reporting.

The findings could lead to the development of a new chamomile-based drug for type 2 diabetes, which is at epidemic levels in this country and spreading worldwide, they note. Their study appears in the Sept. 10 issue of the ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.

In the new study, Atsushi Kato and colleagues point out that chamomile, also known as manzanilla, has been used for years as a medicinal cure-all to treat a variety of medical problems including stress, colds, and menstrual cramps. Scientists recently proposed that the herbal tea might also be beneficial for fighting diabetes, but the theory hasn't been scientifically tested until now.

To find out, the researchers fed chamomile extract to a group of diabetic rats for 21 days and compared the results to a group of control animals on a normal diet. The chamomile-supplemented animals showed a significant decrease in blood glucose levels compared with the controls, they say. The extract also showed significant inhibition of both ALR2 enzymes and sorbitol, whose elevated levels are associated with increased diabetic complications, the scientists say. - MTS

ARTICLE: "Protective Effects of Dietary chamomile Tea on Diabetic Complications"

Atsushi Kato
University of Toyama
Toyama, Japan

New medications for schizophrenia

New scientific insights into schizophrenia are pointing toward new drugs that offer hope for millions of individuals with the disease - the most serious form of mental illness, according to an article scheduled for the Sept. 15 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS' weekly newsmagazine. Schizophrenia affects about 25 million people, or about one percent of adults, worldwide.

In the article, C&EN Assistant Editor Carmen Drahl notes that existing medications for schizophrenia, so-called antipsychotics, help ease some symptoms, such as hallucinations and disorganized speech. However, they do not deal with all of the disease's symptoms, such as lack of motivation and impairments to decision-making.

Researchers are now moving beyond traditional drugs, which generally target dopamine neurotransmission, and focusing on new targets that might tackle a wider range of symptoms. The article describes animal and human trials of several potential new drugs that focus on new disease targets, including the glutamate neurotransmitter system, a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, and a signaling pathway mediated by cyclic nucleotides.

These substances appear to help relieve a wider range of symptoms while causing fewer side effects, the researchers note. "We're still trying to understand the basic mechanisms of schizophrenia, which will hopefully lead to more effective treatments that target core features of the illness," notes an outside expert.

ARTICLE: "Rethinking Schizophrenia"


The American Chemical Society - the world's largest scientific society - is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

Source: Michael Woods
American Chemical Society

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