DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): In recent years our research findings have provided a new appreciation for the potential pharmacological properties of cotinine, the principal metabolite of nicotine produced after using tobacco products. We now provide compelling evidence that cotinine is indeed a pharmacologically active compound having a number of actions that suggest that it might mediate some of the beneficial effects of nicotine, as well as exhibiting some unique properties of its own. Cotinine was shown to have full efficacy (relative to nicotine) in protecting neural-like cells in culture from a cytotoxic insult. The drug was active in a rat model that predicts antipsychotic-like potential. Cotinine also improved working memory accuracy by non-human primates, and the drug exhibited ability to enhance attention in a distractor version of the same task. Finally we demonstrated that unlike nicotine, cotinine failed to stimulate autonomic ganglionic transmission in the awake rat, but it partly desensitized ganglionic receptors without affecting resting blood pressure. We propose to extend these findings by studying the potential neuroprotective properties of cotinine in a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. The potential of cotinine as a prototypical agent to improve cognition in schizophrenia will be studied in a rat model of sustained attention and in monkeys in a working memory task by evaluating the ability of the compound to attenuate or reverse the impairing effects of low doses of psychotomimetic agents. Finally, the relative ability of cotinine to desensitize nicotinic receptors will be determined in of acetylcholine release from relevant regions of rat and monkey CNS. We expect at the completion of these studies to show that cotinine has exploitable therapeutic potential relevant to human diseases that feature behavioral and cognitive impairment and neurodegeneration. Based on its cognition-enhancing and antipsychotic potential, cotinine also could prove useful in the difficult to treat cognitive deficits associated with schizophrenia. Perhaps even more importantly cotinine has the potential to serve as a prototypical agent by which new drug entities may be compared. The partly translational design of the study will provide results leading to eventual clinical trials with cotinine or a relevant analog.
- National Institute on Aging: $1,154,834.00
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