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NIDA in the News

May 2010


Research News

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Potential viability of HIV medications for HIV prevention in high-risk populations, but not for standard use
New approaches to HIV prevention are urgently needed to stem the estimated 2.7 million new HIV infections that occur worldwide each year. One promising approach being explored is pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)-the use of HIV treatment medications to protect uninfected individuals from HIV infection. Recent studies have shown that a combination of two antiretroviral drugs, Tenofovir and Emtricitabine (TDF/FTC), may hold promise-especially in high-risk populations. Read More ⇒

Understanding more about the needs and expectations of patients seeking outpatient substance abuse treatment
For many, addiction is a chronic condition that persists and increases in severity over many years before individuals seek help. While research has shown that longer stays in addiction treatment programs are associated with improved recovery, attrition rates from substance abuse treatment programs are often high, limiting program effectiveness. Recently, NIDA researchers interviewed 135 individuals participating in outpatient treatment programs to identify factors that may keep them in treatment, and found that participants' reasons for not staying engaged in treatment fell into two categories: program level factors (e.g., dissatisfaction with the program, unmet social services needs, dissatisfaction with counselors, and lack of flexibility in scheduling) and individual-level factors (e.g., low problem recognition and continued substance use). Read More ⇒

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Press Releases

NIDA Blending Conference Launches New Training Approach for Young Adults Addicted to Opioids
A multi-faceted treatment product for young adults addicted to opioid drugs was unveiled April 22 at NIDA's Blending Conference in Albuquerque, N.M. This eighth meeting in the series brought together researchers and clinicians so their latest findings can be immediately applied to the needs of patients and their families dealing with addictive disorders. Read More ⇒

Impulsive-Antisocial Personality Traits Linked to a Hypersensitive Brain Reward System
Normal individuals who scored high on a measure of impulsive/antisocial traits display a hypersensitive brain reward system, according to a brain imaging study by researchers at Vanderbilt University. The findings provide the first evidence of differences in the brain's reward system that may underlie vulnerability to what's typically referred to as psychopathy. The NIDA-funded study, entitled "Mesolimbic Dopamine Reward System Hypersensitivity in Individuals with Psychopathic Traits," was published in the March issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience. Read More ⇒

Common Mechanisms of Drug Abuse and Obesity
Some of the same brain mechanisms that fuel drug addiction in humans accompany the emergence of compulsive eating behaviors and the development of obesity in animals, according to research funded by NIDA. The study entitled "Addiction-like reward dysfunction and compulsive eating in obese rats: Role for dopamine D2 receptors," was conducted by researchers at the Scripps Research Institute and published in the online version of Nature Neuroscience. It will also appear in the journal's May 2010 print issue. When investigators gave rats access to varying levels of high-fat foods, they found unrestricted availability alone can trigger addiction-like responses in the brain, leading to compulsive eating behaviors and the onset of obesity. Read More ⇒

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Notes to Reporters

New Research Shows Promise for Extended Use of Nicotine Patch Therapy
A note to reporters was sent out on February 1 about the publication of the NIDA-funded study entitled "Effectiveness of Extended-Duration Transdermal Nicotine Therapy: A Randomized Trial." The study, conducted by researchers at Penn Medicine, an academic medical center that includes the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. View the Study ⇒

Extensive Imaging Study Shows Human Brains Surprisingly Similar at Rest
On February 22, NIDA distributed a note to reporters about the publication of the NIDA-funded study entitled "Toward Discovery Science of Human Brain Function." The research was conducted by investigators at the NYU Langone Medical Center and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. View the Study ⇒

New Study Suggests "Meth Mouth" as an Addiction Warning Sign in Dental Patients
NIDA-funded research published in the March issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association was the topic of a note to reporters sent out on March 1 entitled "The Relationship Between Methamphetamine Use and Increased Dental Disease." View the Study ⇒

Mechanisms Underlying Methylphenidate's Effects on Learning
A note to reporters was sent out March 8 about the publication of the NIDA-funded study entitled "Methylphenidate Facilitates Learning-induced Amygdala Plasticity." The study was published in Nature Neuroscience. View the Study ⇒

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Hot News

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NIDA's Twitter Account Promoted by Nursing School's Website
The nursing school community has chosen the NIDAnews Twitter account as one of the "100 Best Twitter Feeds to Follow Health News" for its constituents. View the "Top 100" List ⇒

Blending Meeting Promoted Through News Coverage, Blogs & Twitter
Blending Initiative logo
NIDA's Blending Conference in Albuquerque was a not only a scientific success but an opportunity to bring information about NIDA's treatment research advances to the attention of the public and the press. The event received significant national, local and trade media coverage. Stories about the meeting ran on several outlets, including CNN, UPI, KOAT-TV, HealthDay, Medical News Today, and others.

Of particular interest to reporters was the ongoing development of NIDA-sponsored vaccines to treat addiction to nicotine and cocaine.

To capitalize on the growing importance of social media, an interview was scheduled during the meeting with Dr. Volkow and three influential addiction and health bloggers: Addiction Inbox, Psychology Today's "All About Addiction" and About.com: Addictions. In addition, Dr. Cindy Miner "tweeted" throughout the two-day conference on the @NIDAnews Twitter account. In total, 34 tweets were posted; of these, 30 were "retweeted" by NIDAnews followers, reaching more than 5,000 people. The @NIDAnews Twitter stream now has 281 followers. View the CNN story ⇒ | Read the Addiction Inbox blog ⇒

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Other News

DEA Museum Exhibit
DEA Museum Photo

From Left to Right: Dr. Cindy Miner, Dr. Wilson Compton, CSAP's Fran Harding

Drs. Wilson Compton and Cindy Miner participated in the opening/ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) traveling museum exhibit, Target America: Opening Eyes to the Damage Drugs Cause in New Orleans on March 3. The 10,000-square foot exhibit is installed at the Louisiana State Museum's Old U.S. Mint Building and runs through November 24. The exhibit explores the science behind illegal drug addiction and the myriad costs of illegal drugs to individuals, American society and the world. NIDA contributed an entire section on "The Costs to the Body & Brain."

The exhibit was developed in partnership with the DEA Educational Foundation, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), NIDA, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and Partnership for a Drug Free America. It premiered September 11, 2002 at the DEA Museum in Arlington, Virginia and has since inspired millions of visitors in Dallas, Omaha, New York City, Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles. Learn more at http://www.targetamerica.org

NIDA Materials Displayed at Wyoming State Conference
WyoCare display booth photo

NIDA materials on display at Wyoming State Conference

A variety of NIDA's educational materials and publications were recently displayed at an exhibit by the Wyoming Chemical Abuse Research and Violence Prevention Project (WyoCARE) at the Wyoming Governor's Roundtable on Children's Mental Health. The February 8-9 conference celebrated families, youth, consumers and others involved in Wyoming's commitment to mental health services. WyoCARE provides substance abuse and violence prevention information, education opportunities and research support to the communities and citizens of the state of Wyoming.

Project Aware
Project Aware photo
Project Aware, a NIDA-funded grant to determine if receiving a rapid HIV test and counseling offers healthier outcomes than rapid testing alone, held a national training in Miami, FL on January 19-22. A total of 97 staff members attended the training which encompassed detailed modules on recruitment and enrollment, retention, documentation, safety and intensive break-out training sessions on intervention delivery and data systems. Research from the $12.3 million grant awarded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will provide the scientific evidence needed to guide decisions on the benefit of prevention counseling for those who test negative. The study will evaluate the effect of routine counseling at screening on the incidence of sexually transmitted infections. Researchers will also measure reduction of risky sexual behaviors and substance use during sex after a six month period, and cost-effectiveness of counseling and testing.

National Lab Day
NationalLabDay Logo
NIDA has joined a coalition of educators, science and engineering associations, philanthropies and other organizations for National Lab Day, a new grassroots initiative designed to reinvigorate science and math education in the nation's schools and after-school programs and lead to increased U.S. competitiveness. National Lab Day brings hands-on, exciting, and experiment-based learning to kids all over the country. NIDA has developed a number of educational resources for all grade levels which will be entered into the National Lab Day database so that they can be used by teachers and communities across the country. These materials will also be made available to those that choose to participate in an activity in their neighborhood school. While there will be an actual National Lab Day on May 5 to celebrate the effort, the program has already begun.

American

Special Supplement to American Journal on Addictions
A special supplement to the American Journal of Addictions was recently issued on "drug-drug interactions." This special issue is intended as an educational approach to improving identification and management of drug interactions in the clinical setting. Dr. Jag Khalsa and Dr. Ahmed Elkashef, both from the Division of Pharmacotherapies and Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse at NIDA, co-authored a paper included in this supplement.

IRP Welcomes New Research Unit
IRP photo

From left to right: Kimberly McDowell, Ning-Shen Cai, Sergi Ferré, Cesar Molina, & Marco Orru

In August 2009, the NIDA Intramural Research Program (IRP) welcomed a new research unit headed by Dr. Sergi Ferré. Dr. Ferré, who recently was appointed as a Tenure Track Investigator within the Behavioral Neurobiology Research Branch, leads a research team with the general goal to better understand the role of receptor-receptor interactions in the development and compulsive nature of addiction. In particular, his group focuses on receptor heteromers as targets for drug development in drug addiction. His research team includes Senior Staff Fellow Ning-Shen Cai, Research Fellow Cesar Quiroz Molina, Visiting Fellow Marco Orru, and Ph.D. student Kimberly McDowell.

INTEL logo

NIDA Sponsors 2010 ISEF Science Awards
NIDA once again sponsored addiction science awards at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) held May 9-14 in San Jose, CA. Intel ISEF is the world's largest international, pre-college science competition for students in grades 9-12. Over 1,500 high school students from over 50 countries, regions, and territories showcased their independent research at the annual event. Members of OSPC and NIDA grantees serve as judges for NIDA's award, and Friends of NIDA provide funding. Learn More about the 2010 winners ⇒

National Drug Facts Week
National Drugs Facts Week Logo
Media planning and partnership collaboration is underway for National Drug Facts Week (NDFW) to be held November 8-14, 2010. The event, which began in 2008, is an extension of NIDA's annual Drug Facts Chat Day, in which thousands of teens ask questions about drugs via a Web chat. Each year, NIDA gets many more questions than can be answered in a day. In response to this demonstrated interest by teens to get the scientific facts about drugs, NIDA developed NDFW -- asking teens, schools and community groups all over America to hold their own "Q and A" events, with local experts. Throughout the week, teens will participate in a variety of NDFW activities such as hosting movie nights and book club meetings, contacting their members of Congress, holding school assemblies and sponsoring music and art contests. NIDA will hold its annual Drug Facts Chat Day on November 9th as part of the week's activities. A NDFW event page is on Facebook. Visit the NDFW website ⇒

Multijurisdictional Counterdrug Task Force Training
MULTIJURISDICTIONAL COUNTERDRUG TASK FORCE TRAINING
Dr. Timothy Condon was a panelist in a webcast titled "This is Your Brain on Drugs," produced by the Multijurisdictional Counterdrug Task Force Training (MCTFT). The webcast, taped February 26, 2010, included Dr. Amelia Arria, NIDA grantee and Director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, and Senta Goudy, Chief of Prevention in the Florida Office of Drug Control in Tallahassee, Florida.

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Who's Who at NIDA

Denise Pintello, Ph.D., M.S.W. Photo

Denise Pintello, Ph.D., M.S.W.

This month N2 talks with Denise Pintello, Ph.D., M.S.W., Special Assistant to the NIDA Deputy Director.

N2: What is the Blending conference all about - and why is it called "Blending?"

Dr. Pintello: The unique hallmark of the NIDA Blending Conference is how the entire process promotes the exchange of bi- and tri-directional dialogue between researchers, treatment providers and policy-makers. We bring together all of these groups to communicate, laugh, and make decisions (aka: 'Blend') about the conference concept, title, workshop sessions and speakers. It is the only conference that ensures that all panels are composed of researchers and clinicians, which has resulted in outstanding and powerful sessions.

N2: How did it get started?

Dr. Pintello: Our Deputy Director, Dr. Tim Condon, conceptualized and designed the Blending Initiative. His passion to disseminate our NIDA research findings sparked his imagination and in 2000, he orchestrated the first of a total of eight Blending Conferences. Everyone, including trainers, clinicians, administrators and scientists who work on Blending activities, is given the unique opportunity to work closely with Tim, who truly serves as the heartbeat of the Blending Initiative.

N3: What has the Blending initiative accomplished over the years?

Dr. Pintello: It really is true when I say that the Blending Initiative is changing the way treatment is delivered throughout the world. Since launching the Blending products on Buprenorphine, Motivational Incentives and Motivational Interviewing, the substance abuse field has shifted and increased the utilization of all three evidence-based treatments with patients. Also, a number of states are implementing Blending products as recommended treatment interventions and Blending products have been translated into multiple languages. Since May 2008, over 26,000 people have either downloaded Blending products or attended a Blending Team training.

N4: Did you achieve what you hoped to accomplish this year in Albuquerque?

Dr. Pintello: The 2010 Conference was our most popular conference yet! After 1,300 registrations, we had to close down registration more than seven weeks ahead of the conference. This conference focused on "Evidence-Based Treatment and Prevention in Diverse Populations and Settings" and showcased a special Native American Track, five outstanding plenary speakers and 25 workshop sessions.

N5: Describe some of the Blending products.

Dr. Pintello: Blending products are based on recently tested NIDA research. Our Blending Teams design user-friendly materials for practitioners to use during treatment. To date, we have the following finished products:

  • Treatment Planning M.A.T.R.S. - This product instructs providers on how to transform required "paperwork" (assessments, case notes, etc.) into useful clinical information.

  • Motivational Interviewing Assessment: Supervisory Tools for Enhancing Proficiency (MIA:STEP) - This product is designed to enhance the motivational interviewing skills of treatment providers and fortify the supervisor's ability to provide effective clinical supervision.

  • Promoting Awareness of Motivational Incentives (PAMI) - These tools provide information about how the use of positive reinforcement has reduced drug abuse and has enhanced client retention in treatment programs.

The most recently developed products include:

  • Buprenorphine Suite of Blending Products: This packet contains a collection of three Blending products addressing Buprenorphine - Buprenorphine Treatment: Training for Multidisciplinary Addiction Professionals; Short-Term Opioid Withdrawal Using Buprenorphine; and Buprenorphine Treatment for Young Adults.

  • Buprenorphine Treatment for Young Adults: This is our latest product and underscores findings from a CTN study comparing more successful treatment outcomes among young adults receiving longer-term versus short-term buprenorphine/naloxone treatment in an outpatient setting.

N6: What is the best thing about your job?

Dr. Pintello: My job brings me in contact with a wonderful cross-section of intriguing people, and my goal is to serve as a behind-the-scenes conductor who brings the percussion, strings, wood and brass sections together to compose an outstanding report for our NIDA Council members, Blending products, or scientific symposium. As a social worker, I really enjoy setting the stage for innovative initiatives to move forward at NIDA!

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