Pills to Help Keep You Clean

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Science  26 Jun 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5372, pp. 2046
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5372.2046

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Neuroscientists are finding hints that drugs that interfere with glutamate transmission might be used to treat addiction. So far, the greatest promise has been shown by a drug called acamprosate, which has been approved for treating alcoholism in Europe and is in clinical trials in the United States: Researchers showed in the late 1980s and early 1990s that acamprosate blocks the ability of glutamate to stimulate electrical activity in both rat cortical neurons and in the cortexes of anesthetized rats. They are now looking more systematically for other glutamate inhibitors; the over-the-counter cough suppressant dextromethorphan may be one.