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NIDA

Medication Development

Q&A: Dr. David Thomas

NIDA Program Officer Dr. David Thomas speaks about the intertwined problems of pain and prescription opioid abuse, as well as the research supported by NIDA and the National Institutes of Health to address these problems.

Animal Research Advances Effort to Develop Vaccines Against Cocaine, Heroin Abuse

New vaccines that aim to promote recovery from cocaine and heroin abuse showed promise in animal testing. Both vaccines induced rats’ immune system to produce high titers of antibodies that inhibit the target drug from reaching the brain. The rats’ behaviors when given access to the target drug indicated that the vaccines reduced the reinforcing effects that, in recovering people, can cause lapses to turn into relapses.

Potential Pain Medication Targets Peripheral Nerves

Researchers report a significant advance in the search for medications that can suppress pain but avoid opioids’ abuse potential and other undesirable CNS effects. A new compound reduces mouse responses in animal models of neurogenic and chronic inflammatory (e.g., arthritic) pain. The compound, called UB937, enhances the natural pain-killing activity of the neurotransmitter anandamide, and exerts its analgesic effects entirely in peripheral tissues, without entering the brain.

More Convenient Preparations of Buprenorphine Pass Test

Soluble-film preparations of buprenorphine suppressed heroin abusers’ withdrawal symptoms with no serious side effects in a recent clinical trial. They dissolved more rapidly in the mouth than the pill form of the medication, providing faster relief.

Buprenorphine During Pregnancy Reduces Neonate Distress

Sublingual buprenorphine is a safe and effective alternative to methadone for treating opioid dependence during pregnancy, finds the Maternal Opioid Treatment: Human Experimental Research (MOTHER) study, a NIDA-supported clinical trial. Women who received either medication had similar pregnancy and birth outcomes, but infants born to women who received buprenorphine had milder symptoms of neonatal opioid withdrawal.

Well-Known Mechanism Underlies Benzodiazepines' Addictive Properties

New research establishes that benzodiazepines cause addiction in a way similar to that of opioids, cannabinoids, and the club drug GHB. The discovery opens the door to designing new benzodiazepines that counteract anxiety but are not addictive.

In Animals, Receptor Puts Brakes on Nicotine Consumption

New research suggests that differences in tobacco consumption reflect, in part, differences in the functional efficacy of a specific type of receptor in a pathway of the brain. In animal studies, nicotinic acetylcholine receptors with the α5 subunit played a key role in producing aversive responses to nicotine, thereby dissuading further consumption of the drug.

NIDA Announces Avant-Garde Medication Development Awards

Dr. Thomas Kosten of Baylor College of Medicine and Dr. Peter Burkhard of the University of Connecticut are the recipients of NIDA’s 2011 Avant-Garde Awards for Innovative Medication Development Research. Dr. Kosten is developing a vaccine against methamphetamine abuse and Dr. Burkhard is developing a vaccine to counter nicotine addiction.

Medication Reduces Rats' Return to Methamphetamine Seeking

Reports on a new medication strategy under investigated in animal studies that shows promise for preventing relapse to drug abuse.

How Drug Abuse Affects the Brain and Alters Behavior Are Key Questions Driving Division's Work

Discusses the work of NIDA’s Division of Basic Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, the Institute’s locus for studies into the fundamental brain mechanisms underlying drug abuse and addiction.

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