New evidence from work carried out in Cambridge suggests that a certain dopamine antagonist reduces bias towards rewarding foods in overweight and obese participants. It is hoped that this might provide a new drug target for the future.
A team of researchers from Cambridge and Southampton, including the Department’s Professor Ed Bullmore and Dr. Pradeep Nathan, was involved with the study which was recently published in Behavioural Pharmacology. A group of overweight and obese participants were given either a dose of a D3 receptor antagonist or a dose of placebo before completing a food task. This task required the participants to move a stick-man on a screen either towards or away from rewarding and unrewarding food cues. The time taken to move the stick-man was measured each time.
It was found that participants who had received the D3 antagonist showed a reduced bias towards the rewarding cues compared with those who had received the placebo.
This finding suggests that the drug may reduce motivational properties of certain food cues and is a potential therapeutic target for controlling food-seeking behaviour. With the obesity epidemic on the rise, this is another important step in developing possible drugs of the future.