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Toronto, Canada

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Toronto, Canada

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Higgins G.A.,InterVivo Solutions Inc. | Higgins G.A.,University of Toronto | Silenieks L.B.,InterVivo Solutions Inc. | Rossmann A.,InterVivo Solutions Inc. | And 5 more authors.
Neuropsychopharmacology | Year: 2012

Lorcaserin ((1R)-8-chloro-1-methyl-2,3,4,5-tetrahydro-1H-3-benzazepine HCl) is a selective 5-HT 2C receptor agonist with clinical efficacy in phase-III obesity trials. Based on evidence that this drug class also affects behaviors motivated by drug reinforcement, we compared the effect of lorcaserin on behavior maintained by food and nicotine reinforcement, as well as the stimulant and discriminative stimulus properties of nicotine in the rat. Acutely administered lorcaserin (0.3-3 mg/kg, subcutaneous (SC)) dose dependently reduced feeding induced by 22-h food deprivation or palatability. Effects up to 1 mg/kg were consistent with a specific effect on feeding motivation. Lorcaserin (0.6-1 mg/kg, SC) reduced operant responding for food on progressive and fixed ratio schedules of reinforcement. In this dose range lorcaserin also reversed the motor stimulant effect of nicotine, reduced intravenous self-administration of nicotine, and attenuated the nicotine cue in rats trained to discriminate nicotine from saline. Lorcaserin also reduced the reinstatement of nicotine-seeking behavior elicited by a compound cue comprising a nicotine prime and conditioned stimulus previously paired with nicotine reinforcement. Lorcaserin did not reinstate nicotine-seeking behavior or substitute for a nicotine cue. Finally, lorcaserin (0.3-1 mg/kg) reduced nicotine-induced increases in anticipatory responding, a measure of impulsive action, in rats performing the five-choice serial reaction time task. Importantly, these results indicate that lorcaserin, and likely other selective 5-HT 2C receptor agonists, similarly affect both food- and nicotine-motivated behaviors, and nicotine-induced impulsivity. Collectively, these findings highlight a therapeutic potential for 5-HT 2C agonists such as lorcaserin beyond obesity into addictive behaviors, such as nicotine dependence. © 2012 American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. All rights reserved.


Guy E.G.,University of Toronto | Guy E.G.,Center for Addiction and Mental Health | Fisher D.C.,Center for Addiction and Mental Health | Higgins G.A.,University of Toronto | And 3 more authors.
Behavioural Pharmacology | Year: 2014

Smoking tobacco remains one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in North America. Nicotine reinforces smoking behavior, in part, by enhancing the reinforcing properties of reward-related stimuli, or conditioned stimuli (CSs), associated with tobacco intake. To investigate how pharmaceutical interventions may affect this property of nicotine, we examined the effect of four US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs on the ability of nicotine to enhance operant responding for a CS as a conditioned reinforcer. Thirsty rats were exposed to 13 Pavlovian sessions where a CS was paired with water delivery. Nicotine (0.4 mg/kg) injections were administered before each Pavlovian session. Then, in separate groups of rats, the effects of varenicline (1 mg/kg), bupropion (10 and 30 mg/kg), lorcaserin (0.6 mg/kg), and naltrexone (2 mg/kg), and their interaction with nicotine on responding for conditioned reinforcement were examined. Varenicline and lorcaserin each reduced nicotine-enhanced responding for conditioned reinforcement, whereas naltrexone had a modest effect of reducing response enhancements by nicotine. In contrast, bupropion enhanced the effect of nicotine on this measure. The results of these studies may inform how pharmaceutical interventions can affect smoking cessation attempts and relapse through diverse mechanisms, either substituting for, or interacting with, the reinforcement-enhancing properties of nicotine. © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health. © Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


Zeeb F.D.,Center for Addiction and Mental Health | Higgins G.A.,InterVivo Solutions Inc. | Higgins G.A.,University of Toronto | Fletcher P.J.,Center for Addiction and Mental Health | Fletcher P.J.,University of Toronto
ACS Chemical Neuroscience | Year: 2015

Lorcaserin, a serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) 2C receptor agonist, was recently approved for the treatment of obesity. We previously suggested that 5-HT2C receptor agonists affect reward processes and reduce the rewarding effects of drugs of abuse. Here, we determined whether lorcaserin (1) decreases responding for brain stimulation reward (BSR) and (2) prevents nicotine from enhancing the efficacy of BSR. Rats were trained on the intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) paradigm to nosepoke for BSR of either the dorsal raphé nucleus or left medial forebrain bundle. In Experiment 1, lorcaserin (0.3-1.0 mg/kg) dose-dependently reduced the efficacy of BSR. This effect was blocked by prior administration of the 5-HT2C receptor antagonist SB242084. In Experiment 2, separate groups of rats received saline or nicotine (0.4 mg/kg) for eight sessions prior to testing. Although thresholds were unaltered in saline-treated rats, nicotine reduced reward thresholds. An injection of lorcaserin (0.3 mg/kg) prior to nicotine prevented the reward-enhancing effect of nicotine across multiple test sessions. These results demonstrated that lorcaserin reduces the rewarding value of BSR and also prevents nicotine from facilitating ICSS. Hence, lorcaserin may be effective in treating psychiatric disorders, including obesity and nicotine addiction, by reducing the value of food or drug rewards. © 2015 American Chemical Society.


Higgins G.A.,InterVivo Solutions Inc. | Higgins G.A.,University of Toronto | Sellers E.M.,DecisionLine | Fletcher P.J.,Center for Addiction and Mental Health | Fletcher P.J.,University of Toronto
Trends in Pharmacological Sciences | Year: 2013

The recent US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of the serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) 5-HT2C receptor agonist lorcaserin for the treatment of obesity represents a new therapeutic drug class available to the clinic. Preclinical evidence supports the potential for this drug class to treat other related conditions such as substance abuse. In the present article we review this evidence and further suggest that overlapping neurobiological systems may contribute to an anti-addictive and anti-obesity profile. The availability of selective 5-HT2C agonists provides an opportunity to evaluate their potential as treatments for nicotine dependence or psychostimulant abuse, conditions for which there is significant medical need but only limited available treatment options. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. Allrights reserved.


Higgins G.A.,InterVivo Solutions Inc | Higgins G.A.,University of Toronto | Silenieks L.B.,InterVivo Solutions Inc | Lau W.,InterVivo Solutions Inc | And 8 more authors.
Psychopharmacology | Year: 2013

Rationale: Selective 5-HT2C receptor agonists, such as lorcaserin, are being developed for the treatment of obesity. Studies suggest that they may also have therapeutic potential for addictive behaviours including nicotine dependence, although few drugs of this class have been evaluated. Objectives: The primary aim was to evaluate the highly selective 5-HT 2C agonist, CP-809101, against food-motivated (operant FR5 and progressive ratio schedules, palatability-induced feeding) and nicotine-motivated (intravenous self-administration, drug discrimination) behaviours in rats and to compare with equivalent findings for the structurally distinct 5-HT2C receptor agonists lorcaserin and Ro 60-0175. The secondary aims were to evaluate the side effect profiles of lorcaserin and CP-809101 and to determine the plasma levels of lorcaserin at a dose (1 mg/kg) that reduces both food and nicotine reinforcement for comparison to plasma concentrations reported in human trials. Results: CP-809101 (0.3-3 mg/kg SC) reduced responding for both nicotine and food and blocked the discriminative stimulus properties of nicotine in a similar manner to lorcaserin and Ro 60-0175. Behaviours such as hypolocomotion, chewing and ptosis became evident following both CP-809101 and lorcaserin administration at higher doses. Plasma levels of lorcaserin were of similar range to those reported in obesity trials. Conclusions: These studies support the utility of 5-HT2C agonists as a therapeutic approach to treat nicotine dependence. Plasma exposure levels after acute lorcaserin treatment suggest that equivalent dosages could be used to evaluate these drugs in obesity and smoking cessation trials. Finally, there may be differences in the side effect profiles between lorcaserin and CP-809101, raising the possibility for tolerability differences amongst 5-HT2C agonists. © 2012 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Fletcher P.J.,Center for Addiction and Mental Health | Fletcher P.J.,University of Toronto | Soko A.D.,Center for Addiction and Mental Health | Higgins G.A.,University of Toronto | Higgins G.A.,InterVivo Solutions Inc
Psychopharmacology | Year: 2013

Rationale: Depletion of brain serotonin (5-HT) results in impulsive behaviour as measured by increased premature responding in the five-choice serial reaction time (5-CSRT) test. Acute selective blockade of 5-HT 2C receptors also increases this form of impulsive action, whereas 5-HT2C receptor stimulation reduces premature responding. Objectives: These experiments determined the impact of genetic disruption of 5-HT 2C receptor function on impulsive responding in the 5-CSRT test. Methods: Food-restricted 5-HT2C receptor null mutant and wild-type (WT) mice were trained on the 5-CSRT test in which subjects detect and correctly respond to brief light stimuli for food reinforcement. Impulsivity is measured as premature responses that occur prior to stimulus presentation. Results: Both lines of mice quickly learned this task, but there were no genotype differences in premature responding or any other aspect of performance. A series of drug challenges were then given. The 5-HT2C receptor agonist Ro60-0175 (0.6 mg/kg) reduced premature responding in WT mice but not mutant mice. The 5-HT2C receptor antagonist SB242084 increased premature responding in WT mice only. Cocaine increased premature responding at 7.5 mg/kg but not at a higher dose that disrupted overall responding; these effects were observed in both lines of mice. Amphetamine (0.25 and 0.5 mg/kg) did not affect premature responding, but disrupted other aspects of performance in both genotypes. Conclusions: Genetic deletion of 5-HT2C receptor function does not induce an impulsive state or exacerbate that state induced by psychomotor stimulants but does prevent the acute effects of 5-HT2C receptor stimulation or blockade on impulsive action. © 2012 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Silenieks L.B.,InterVivo Solutions Inc. | Koch E.,Dr. Willmar Schwabe GmbH and Co. | Higgins G.A.,InterVivo Solutions Inc. | Higgins G.A.,King's College
Phytomedicine | Year: 2013

Recently, an essential oil of selected quality produced from the flowering tops of Lavandula angustifolia Mill. by steam distillation (Silexan) has been approved in Germany for the treatment of restlessness in case of anxious mood. Based on the observed clinical effects, it has been speculated that lavender oil may exert benzodiazepine-like action including the known dependence and abuse potential of this class of drugs. Although no evidence for such an activity was generated during the long-standing medicinal use of lavender oil, further preclinical investigations were now conducted to evaluate this potential side effect in more detail. Twelve adult, male, Sprague-Dawley rats were trained to discriminate the benzodiazepine drug diazepam (2 mg/kg i.p.) from saline using a two-lever operant procedure. After approximately 40 training sessions the majority of rats learned the discrimination and pre-treatment with ascending doses of diazepam (0.3-2 mg/kg i.p.) produced a dose related generalization to the diazepam cue. In these same animals Silexan was administered to see if animals recognized the drug as "diazepam-like" i.e. generalized to diazepam or "saline-like". Silexan tested at doses 3-30 mg/kg i.p. produced almost exclusively (>90%) saline-like responding. Also there was no effect of Silexan on response rate, i.e. rate of lever pressing, at any dose suggesting that the test article is well tolerated and does not exert a sedating effect. In sum, Silexan has no diazepam-like interoceptive property in adult, male rats. This suggests that Silexan does not share the potential of benzodiazepines to induce the development of tolerance, dependence and addiction. © 2012 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.


Higgins G.A.,InterVivo Solutions Inc. | Higgins G.A.,University of Toronto | Fletcher P.J.,Section of Biopsychology and Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute | Fletcher P.J.,University of Toronto
ACS Chemical Neuroscience | Year: 2015

The neurotransmitter 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT; serotonin) has long been associated with the control of a variety of motivated behaviors, including feeding. Much of the evidence linking 5-HT and feeding behavior was obtained from studies of the effects of the 5-HT releaser (dex)fenfluramine in laboratory animals and humans. Recently, the selective 5-HT2C receptor agonist lorcaserin received FDA approval for the treatment of obesity. This review examines evidence to support the use of selective 5-HT2C receptor agonists as treatments for conditions beyond obesity, including substance abuse (particularly nicotine, psychostimulant, and alcohol dependence), obsessive compulsive, and excessive gambling disorder. Following a brief survey of the early literature supporting a role for 5-HT in modulating food and drug reinforcement, we propose that intrinsic differences between SSRI and serotonin releasers may have underestimated the value of serotonin-based pharmacotherapeutics to treat clinical forms of addictive behavior beyond obesity. We then highlight the critical involvement of the 5-HT2C receptor in mediating the effect of (dex)fenfluramine on feeding and body weight gain and the evidence that 5-HT2C receptor agonists reduce measures of drug reward and impulsivity. A recent report of lorcaserin efficacy in a smoking cessation trial further strengthens the idea that 5-HT2C receptor agonists may have potential as a treatment for addiction. This review was prepared as a contribution to the proceedings of the 11th International Society for Serotonin Research Meeting held in Hermanus, South Africa, July 9-12, 2014. © 2015 American Chemical Society.


Fan J.,InterVivo Solutions Inc. | De Lannoy I.A.M.,InterVivo Solutions Inc.
Biochemical Pharmacology | Year: 2014

Pharmacokinetics (PK) is the study of the time course of the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME) of a drug, compound or new chemical entity (NCE) after its administration to the body. Following a brief introduction as to why knowledge of the PK properties of an NCE is critical to its selection as a lead candidate in a drug discovery program and/or its use as a functional research tool, the present article presents an overview of PK principles, including practical guidelines for conducting PK studies as well as the equations required for characterizing and understanding the PK of an NCE and its metabolite(s). A review of the determination of in vivo PK parameters by non-compartmental and compartmental methods is followed by a brief overview of allometric scaling. Compound absorption and permeability are discussed in the context of intestinal absorption and brain penetration. The volume of distribution and plasma protein and tissue binding are covered as is the clearance (systemic, hepatic, renal, biliary) of both small and large molecules. A section on metabolite kinetics describes how to estimate the PK parameters of a metabolite following administration of an NCE. Lastly, mathematical models used to describe pharmacodynamics (PD), the relationship between the NCE/compound concentration at the site of action and the resulting effect, are reviewed and linked to PK models in a section on PK/PD. © 2013 Published by Elsevier Inc.


Duffy R.A.,Merck And Co. | Morgan C.,Merck And Co. | Naylor R.,University of Bradford | Higgins G.A.,InterVivo Solutions Inc | And 3 more authors.
Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior | Year: 2012

NK1 receptor antagonists have been shown to have a variety of physiological and potential therapeutic effects in animal models and in humans. The present studies demonstrate that Rolapitant (SCH 619734, (5S)-8(S)-[[1(R)-[3,5 bis(trifluoromethyl)phenyl]ethoxy]methyl]-8-phenyl-1,7-diazaspiro[4,5] decan-2-one) is a selective, bioavailable, CNS penetrant neurokinin NK1 receptor antagonist that shows behavioral effects in animals models of emesis. In vitro studies indicate that rolapitant has a high affinity for the human NK1 receptor of 0.66 nM and high selectivity over the human NK2 and NK3 subtypes of > 1000-fold, as well as preferential affinity for human, guinea pig, gerbil and monkey NK1 receptors over rat, mouse and rabbit. Rolapitant is a functionally competitive antagonist, as measured by calcium efflux, with a calculated Kb of 0.17 nM. Rolapitant reversed NK1 agonist-induced foot tapping in gerbils following both intravenous and oral administration up to 24 hours at a minimal effective dose (MED) of 0.1 mg/kg. Rolapitant was active at 0.1 and 1 mg/kg in both acute and delayed emesis models in ferrets, respectively, consistent with clinical data for other NK1 antagonists. Clinical efficacy of anti-emetics is highly correlated with efficacy in the ferret emesis model, suggesting rolapitant is a viable clinical candidate for this indication. © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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