Un nuevo compuesto relacionado con la ibogaína psicodélica podría tratar la adicción y la depresión

Investigadores de la Universidad de California en Davis han desarrollado una versión no alucinógena de la droga psicodélica ibogaína con potencial para tratar la adicción, la depresión y otros trastornos psiquiátricos, según publican en la revista ‘Nature’.

«Las psicodélicas son algunas de las drogas más poderosas que conocemos que afectan el cerebro –recuerda David Olson, profesor asistente de química en UC Davis y autor principal del artículo–. Y es increíble lo poco que sabemos sobre ellas».

La ibogaína se extrae de la planta Tabernanthe iboga. Hay informes anecdóticos de que puede tener poderosos efectos contra la adicción, como reducir los antojos de drogas y prevenir las recaídas. Pero también hay efectos secundarios graves, que incluyen alucinaciones y toxicidad cardíaca.

Olson y su equipo se propusieron crear un análogo sintético de la ibogaína que conservara las propiedades terapéuticas sin los efectos no deseados del compuesto psicodélico. Trabajaron con una serie de compuestos similares intercambiando partes de la molécula de ibogaína. Diseñaron una nueva molécula sintética a la que llamaron tabernanthalog o TBG.

A diferencia de la ibogaína, la nueva molécula es soluble en agua y se puede sintetizar en un solo paso. Los experimentos con cultivos celulares y pez cebra muestran que es menos tóxico que la ibogaína, que puede provocar infartos y ha sido responsable de varias muertes.

La TBG aumentó la formación de nuevas dendritas (ramas) en las células nerviosas de las ratas y de nuevas espinas en esas dendritas. Eso es similar al efecto de drogas como la ketamina, LSD, MDMA y DMT (el componente activo del extracto de la planta ayahuasca) en las conexiones entre las células nerviosas.

Una serie de experimentos en modelos de roedores de depresión y adicción muestran que la nueva droga tiene efectos positivos prometedores. Estos modelos animales, realizados de acuerdo con las regulaciones de los NIH y revisados ??aprobados por los Comités Institucionales de Uso y Cuidado de Animales de Estados Unidos, siguen siendo vitales para la investigación de trastornos psiquiátricos complejos.

Los ratones entrenados para beber alcohol redujeron su consumo después de una sola dosis de la TBG. Se entrenó a las ratas para asociar una luz y un tono con presionar una palanca para obtener una dosis de heroína. Cuando se quita el opiáceo, las ratas desarrollan signos de abstinencia y presionan la palanca nuevamente cuando se les dan las señales de luz y sonido. El tratamiento de las ratas con TBG tuvo un efecto duradero sobre la recaída de opiáceos.

Olson cree que la TBG funciona cambiando la estructura de las neuronas en los circuitos cerebrales clave involucrados en la depresión, la ansiedad, el trastorno de estrés postraumático y la adicción.

«Nos hemos centrado en tratar una enfermedad psiquiátrica a la vez, pero sabemos que estas enfermedades se superponen –explica Olson–. Podría ser posible tratar múltiples enfermedades con el mismo medicamento».

De hecho, las terapias psicodélicas han despertado un nuevo interés en los últimos años. Pero llevar a los pacientes en ‘viajes’ individuales lleva mucho tiempo y es costoso, y requiere horas de estrecha supervisión médica además de los posibles efectos negativos.

«Necesitamos un medicamento que la gente pueda guardar en su botiquín y este es un paso significativo en esa dirección», asegura Olson.



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