Treating cocaine addiction with transcranial magnetic stimulation

2014

Challenge

There are very few successful strategies for treating cocaine addiction. Patients urgently need ways to relieve symptoms of cocaine craving to overcome the disease.

Advance

IRP researchers led by Antonello Bonci, M.D., took a novel approach to the problem of cocaine addition and discovered that, while chronic cocaine exposure significantly reduces brain activity in regions of the prefrontal cortex, optogenetic stimulation of those same brain areas in rodents reduced their cocaine consumption. In clinical studies, repeated transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) was administered to treatment-seeking patients diagnosed with cocaine addiction. The majority of patients in those trials stopped cocaine consumption after 4 weeks of rTMS treatments.

Impact

The team’s very preliminary findings demonstrated that rTMS holds very strong promise as a therapy for cocaine craving in treatment-seeking patients. 

Publications

Chen BT, Yau H, Hatch C, Chou SL, Hopf FW, Bonci A. (2013). Rescuing Cocaine-induced Prefrontal Cortex Hypoactivity Prevents Compulsive Cocaine Seeking. Nature. 496(7445), 359-62.

Terraneo A, Leggio L, Saladini M, Ermani M, Bonci A, Gallimberti L. (2015). Translational magnetic stimulation of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex reduces cocaine use: pilot study. European Neuropsychopharmacology. 26(1), 37-44.