September 9, 1999
UPTON, NY - The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory has licensed to David Pharmaceuticals, Inc., of Burlingame, California, the use of the drug vigabatrin for its potential application in treating addiction.
Vigabatrin, a drug used to treat epilepsy outside the U.S., may prove to be a highly effective pharmaceutical treatment for cocaine addiction. In August, 1998, a team of scientists from Brookhaven, St. John's University, New York University, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Boston University reported in the journal Synapse that the drug, also known as gamma vinyl-GABA, or GVG, blocked cocaine's effect in the brains of primates, and significantly decreased the animals' drug-seeking behavior. In subsequent studies, Brookhaven collaborations found that the drug effectively blocked test animals' craving for nicotine, heroin, alcohol and methamphetamine.
Stephen Dewey, the Brookhaven neuroscientist who led the groundbreaking studies, said, "We are pleased to have entered into a long-term research collaboration with David Pharmaceuticals to expand and enlarge the scope of our discoveries. Addiction is a terrible disease, and those who suffer from it, as well as their families and friends, and society in general, are held hostage to it. I am hopeful that our collaborative efforts will lead to a safe and effective treatment."
Glenn Diamond, founder and CEO of David Pharmaceuticals, Inc., commented, "In light of the compelling public health interest, we are determined to rapidly develop these significant discoveries made at Brookhaven Lab."
Diamond added that David intends to file with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration within the next fourteen months to initiate clinical trials for the use of vigabatrin in the treatment of cocaine abuse. Future filings are planned for the use of the drug in smoking cessation and for the treatment of heroin, alcohol and metamphetamine addiction.
Dewey and his collaborators did their research on vigabatrin at the Brookhaven Center for Imaging and Neurosciences at Brookhaven Lab, a pioneering research center that uses positron emission tomography and other medical imaging techniques to study the brain mechanisms underlying addiction. Brookhaven is a designated Regional Drug Addiction Study Center of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
David Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is a privately funded startup company focused on the development of medicines to treat difficult central nervous system disorders such as substance and behavioral addictions, memory and cognitive impairment, and mental retardation. David is named after the founder's seven-year-old son, who has Down syndrome.
The U.S. Department of Energy's
Brookhaven National Laboratory creates and operates major facilities
available to university, industrial and government personnel for
basic and applied research in the physical, biomedical and environmental
sciences, and in selected energy technologies. The Laboratory
is operated by Brookhaven Science Associates, a not-for-profit
research management company, under contract with the U.S. Department