A new type of targeted treatment to prevent smoking relapse has been identified by Centre for Addiction and Mental Health scientists.
Dr. Fang Liu, Senior Scientist in CAMH's Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute and Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and her team initially found that nicotine exposure can enhance binding between two types of brain receptors - a nicotinic receptor and a glutamate receptor.
They identified the sites where the two receptors bind together. With this information, they were able to generate a protein peptide to disrupt the binding of the two receptors.
Working with CAMH Senior Scientist Dr. Anh Dzung Le, the peptide was then tested in an animal model of relapse. As anticipated, it had the effect of reducing attempts to seek nicotine.
"These discoveries present an avenue to develop an anti-smoking medication that directly targets the relapse process by focusing on this brain target," said Dr. Liu.
"We hope that it will lead to an alternative treatment for smokers who aren't succeeding with current smoking cessation medications," he added.
Their work has been published online in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.