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Trial of Novel Addiction Treatment Studied at Albany Med to Begin in Brazil

ALBANY, N.Y., January 3, 2013—The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is providing support to test whether a compound that has been studied for years at Albany Medical College is a potential treatment for addiction to a wide variety of cravings—from food to cigarettes to alcohol and hard drugs. 

Savant HWP, Inc. has received a $6.5 million, three-year grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to support the development of 18-MC (18-methoxycoronaridine) as a potential treatment for drug addiction, obesity and other forms of compulsive behavior. This year, Savant will be starting early clinical trials in Brazil focused on 18-MC’s safety and metabolism. The drug will also be studied as a potential treatment for an unrelated skin condition.

Stanley Glick, Ph.D., M.D., director of the Center for Neuropharmacology and Neuroscience at Albany Medical College, directed the early studies of 18-MC, which also were supported by NIDA funding. He said 18-MC, which has been shown in the laboratory to block a receptor in the brain leading to reduced drug cravings, could represent a major advance in the fight against addiction. The drug could also combat leishmaniasis, a debilitating and disfiguring skin disease afflicting millions of people in 88 tropical countries. 

“18-MC is likely to be the first of a new generation of agents effective against a broad spectrum of addictions—from hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine, to alcohol, nicotine and even sugary, high-fat foods, possibly reducing obesity rates,” said Dr. Glick. 

“Based on work by Brazilian collaborators, we’re hopeful that this drug could also provide relief for a completely unrelated disorder, leishmaniasis that creates painful skin lesions as well as damaging internal organs.” 

Toxicology studies now being conducted in several laboratories will establish within 6 to 10 months whether 18-MC is safe for human clinical trials in the US, which, if successful, could lead to FDA approval of the agent as an addiction treatment.

Dr. Glick said the results from Brazil will have to be replicated and confirmed in the United States before the drug can be approved for use in this country.

The drug is a synthetic agent, synthesized by Martin Kuehne (University of Vermont) and derived from a naturally occurring substance found in the bark of a West African shrub.

Savant HWP, Inc., based in San Carlos, CA, is a privately held, health, wellness and prevention company currently focused on unmet medical needs in addiction medicine and selected other global health issues.  The company’s lead program is focused on the development of 18-MC, a novel compound that targets the dopamine “reward” pathway in the brain that drives pleasure-seeking behaviors associated with addiction, obesity and many forms of compulsive behavior. Savant expects to begin Phase 1 clinical trials of 18-MC in Brazil in early 2013 and to file a U.S. Investigational New Drug application to begin U.S. trials of 18-MC in 2014.  For more information, please visit our web site at

Albany Medical Center, northeastern New York’s only academic health sciences center, is one of the largest private employers in the Capital Region. It incorporates the 651-bed Albany Medical Center Hospital, which offers the widest range of medical and surgical services in the region, and the Albany Medical College, which trains the next generation of doctors, scientists and other healthcare professionals, and also includes a biomedical research enterprise and the region’s largest physicians practice with 350 doctors. Albany Medical Center works with dozens of community partners to improve the region’s health and quality of life. For more information: or


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Sue Ford
Extension: (518) 262 - 3421

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