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Alzheimer's Drug May Help Reduce Symptoms Associated With Binge Eating

First Posted: Nov 14, 2014 12:12 AM EST
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Recent findings published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology show that alzheimer's drugs could help cure symptoms associated with eating disorders.

Researchers recently discovered that a neuroprotective drug known as memantine could significantly help reduce addictive and impulsive behavior that's oftentimes associated with binge eating and feelings of self-disgust following.

"We found that memantine, which blocks glutamate NMDA receptors, blocks binge eating of junk food, blocks the strength of cues associated with junk food and blocks the compulsivity associated with binge eating," said lead study author Pietro Cottone, PhD, an associate professor of pharmacology and psychiatry at BUSM and co-director of the Laboratory of Addictive Disorders, in a news release.

The drug helps to reduce the urge to binge eat by working on the nucleus accumbens--a brain region that's responsible for addictive behaviors.

For this study in particular, researchers used an experimental model to stimulate binge-eating behavior. After applying memantine, findings revealed that binge-eating activity could be suppressed through the nucleus accumbens.

"Individuals with binge eating disorder have a very poor quality of life and decreased lifespan," concluded coauthor Valentina Sabino, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology and psychiatry at BUSM and co-director of the Laboratory of Addictive Disorders. "Our study gives a better understanding of the underpinning neurobiological mechanisms of the disorde."

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