Maryland researchers get grant to develop drug to treat cocaine addiction

October 19, 2010

The National Institutes of Health?s National Institute on Drug Abuse awarded a 5-year, $3.7 million research grant to Jia Bei Wang, PhD, a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy to develop a drug to treat cocaine addiction.

The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) awarded a 5-year, $3.7 million research grant to Jia Bei Wang, PhD, a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy to develop a drug to treat cocaine addiction.

Dr. Wang and her collaborators from the university’s schools of pharmacy and medicine will develop a drug from a compound called l-tetrahydropalmatine (l-THP), which is the active ingredient in some Chinese medicines. Under the grant, the team also plans to conduct human trials to test the effectiveness of the new drug.

If proven effective, it will be the first drug developed and approved in the United States - and possibly anywhere in the world - to treat cocaine addiction.

According to a 2007 NIDA study, there were 2.1 million cocaine users in the United States, and today the agency estimates about 1 in 6 Americans have tried cocaine by the age of 30.