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NIDA in the News

December 2010


Research News

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Novel local communication system in key brain reward area
The ventral tegmental area (VTA), a region of the midbrain associated with pleasure, reward and craving, plays a key role in drug abuse and addiction. The VTA contains several types of neurons, including those that release dopamine (DA), GABA, and glutamate. By studying both anatomical and electrophysiological properties of the VTA from male rats, NIDA researchers were able to learn more about the connectivity of VTA glutamatergic neurons and their projections. Read More ⇒

Adolescent rats may be more severely affected by prolonged nicotine exposure
Drug addiction is a developmental disease, often beginning during adolescence. Because adolescent brains are undergoing extensive developmental changes, they may be uniquely sensitive to the effects of addictive drugs, like nicotine, making them more vulnerable to addiction. A recent animal study funded by NIDA has identified some specific short and long-term gene changes in the brain’s reward system that may contribute to increased vulnerability of adolescents to nicotine addiction. Read More ⇒

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Press Releases

NIH, MusiCares and the GRAMMY Foundation Announce Teen Music Contest
NIDA, along with MusiCares and the GRAMMY Foundation—the two nonprofit organizations of The Recording Academy—announced the MusiCares and GRAMMY Foundation Teen Substance Abuse Awareness through Music Contest. The contest asks young musicians, ages 14-18, to compose or create an original song and/or music video that explores, encourages, and celebrates a healthy lifestyle or accurately depicts a story about drug abuse. Winners will be announced during NIDA's first National Drug Facts Week, which begins Nov. 8, 2010. Read More ⇒

Latent HIV Infection Focus of NIDA’s 2010 Avant-Garde Award
NIDA announced that Dr. Eric M. Verdin of the J. David Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco, Calif., has been selected as the 2010 recipient of the NIDA Avant-Garde Award for HIV/AIDS Research for his proposal to study the mechanisms of latent HIV infection. NIDA's annual Avant-Garde award competition, now in its third year, is intended to stimulate high-impact research that may lead to groundbreaking opportunities for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in drug abusers. Read More ⇒

First NIDA Avant-Garde Awards for Medications Development Research
A potential immunotherapy, a new gene therapy, an enzyme inhibitor, and a compound originally isolated from a Chinese herb are among the latest approaches scientists are proposing to treat addiction. The recipients of the first-ever Avant-Garde Awards for Innovative Medication Development Research by NIDA will receive $500,000 per year for five years to support their research. Read More ⇒

Unprecedented Effort to Seek, Test, and Treat Inmates with HIV
Twelve scientific teams in more than a dozen states will receive NIH grants to study effective ways to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS among people in the criminal justice system. The grants, announced today, will be awarded primarily by NIDA, with additional support from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The research will take place over a five-year period. Read More ⇒

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Notes to Reporters

Improved Treatment for Infants Exposed to Opiates Before Birth Requires Fewer Days in Treatment, Hospital
On October 6, NIDA distributed a note to reporters announcing a study published in Addiction that compared two treatments for neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), a condition affecting infants exposed to opiates before birth. Full-term infants with NAS were divided into two groups—one given oral morphine, the current standard of treatment, and the other given buprenorphine, a newer alternative—to treat their symptoms. This study suggests that buprenorphine is a viable option for treating NAS in infants and may be more advantageous than morphine. However, more research is needed before firm comparative conclusions can be drawn. The study by Kraft et al is titled “Revised Dose Schema of Sublingual Buprenorphine in the Treatment of the Neonatal Opioid Abstinence Syndrome.” View the Story ⇒

NIDA Supports "Functional Connectomes Project”
A note to reporters was distributed on October 8, announcing NIDA's support of the "Functional Connectomes Project." This new international neuroimaging data-sharing initiative allows scientists worldwide to use and contribute to a compilation of resting R-fMRI datasets. View NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow's message and learn more about the project ⇒

Important Treatment Advances for Addiction to Heroin and other Opiates
On October 13, NIDA distributed a note to reporters announcing two breaking developments which represent dramatic advances in treatment for people addicted to heroin and prescription opioid painkillers. The latest message from NIDA Director Dr. Volkow (View the Message) was included. Dr. Volkow explains the significance of FDA’s approval of Vivitrol for opioid dependence and also discusses a study published in JAMA that shows promising findings for an implantable form of buprenorphine, another extended-release treatment. View the FDA's Release ⇒ | View the JAMA Article ⇒

New NIDA-Funded Paper on Cocaine Published in Science
NIDA issued a note to reporters on October 15 to highlight a research paper, titled “Cell Type-Specific Loss of BDNF Signaling Mimics Optogenetic Control of Cocaine Reward,” by Lobo, et al, published online in Science. View the Article ⇒

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Hot News

Promotion of National Drug Facts Week and Grammy/MusiCares Music Contest
NDFW and Grammy/MusiCares logo
NIDA’s first annual National Drug Facts Week (launched November 8th) was a huge success, with more than 50 community groups holding events around the country. Information on events and their locations can be found on the NDFW Web site at http://www.drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov/. Check out http://www.drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov/contestWinners.php to see and hear the winning entries from the MusiCares and Grammy Foundation Teen Substance Abuse Awareness through Music Contest. The winning songwriters are a couple of teens from Alton, Illinois, who will get to go backstage at a GRAMMY rehearsal in February. NIDA has also developed relationships with MTV who agreed to help promote NDFW on their blog and also featured NDFW in the main marquee on its substance abuse page. View Blog Post ⇒ | View Website ⇒
In addition, Jordin Sparks, singer/songwriter and the youngest ever winner of American Idol, tweeted (twitter handle is @TheRealJordin) about the music contest to her nearly 639,000 followers to prompt interest and submissions.

Also, Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack and Congressman Bill Delahunt introduced legislation to recognize NDFW.

Staff from NIDA worked with Dr. Phil.com regarding posting a link to NDFW on his website in conjunction with a recent show about drug abuse and addiction. View the website ⇒

Also, The Partnership at Drugfree.org highlighted NDFW in their Time to Talk newsletter.

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Other News

Sara Bellum Blog Receives Award
Sara Bellum blog
NIDA’s Sara Bellum blog received an honorable mention for the 2010 Digital PR Awards. View the list of awards at http://www.prnewsonline.com/pr_awards/prdigital/2010-Digital-PR-Awards-Blog_14230.html. PR News' Digital PR Awards is the industry's top honor in the PR/Communications digital space, recognizing outstanding digital initiatives among corporations, agencies and nonprofits.

NIDA Grantee Receives Prince of Asturias Award from the Prince Himself!
Linda Watkins receiving award from Prince of Asturias

Linda Watkins (in blue dress) receiving award from Prince of Asturias

With a lot of pomp and circumstance, NIDA grantee Linda Watkins received the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award from the Prince of Asturias Foundation for her research into improved medications for pain relief. The awards are given to “encourage and promote the scientific, cultural and humanistic values that form part of mankind’s universal heritage.” She is receiving the award from the Prince of Asturias, who is Heir to the throne of Spain. Sitting next to the Prince is his wife, Princess Letizia. The involvement of the Royal Family, including the King and Queen, brings out tens of thousands of onlookers to greet the winners, with a telecast seen all over Europe.

NIDA Grantee Receives Prestigious North Carolina Award
Governor Beverly Perdue and Dr. Ivy Carroll

Governor Beverly Perdue and Dr. Ivy Carroll

NIDA Grantee F. Ivy Carroll, Ph.D., was among six distinguished North Carolinians honored last month by Governor Beverly Perdue with the state’s highest achievement at the 2010 North Carolina Awards ceremony in Raleigh, NC. As the award’s recipient for science, RTI scientist and Distinguished Fellow, Dr. Carroll was honored as a leading researcher in medicinal chemistry, including his groundbreaking work in the areas of biochemical addiction and drug abuse research. The other honorees were in the fields of literature, the fine arts and public service.

NIDA Participates in First USA Science and Engineering Festival on the Mall and Freedom Plaza
USA Science Engineering Festival
On October 23-24, 2010, NIDA participated in the first USA Science and Engineering Festival on the Mall and Freedom Plaza in Washington DC. In addition to NIH, there were over 400 science and engineering organizations from throughout the U.S. who presented hands-on science geared for children and the general public. The exhibits were both educational and fun with things such as robotics, optical illusions, isolating DNA from strawberries and much more. NIDA participated in a special NIH area at both sites. The festival was geared towards inspiring the next generation of scientists (and drug abuse researchers) by letting them experience the excitement and possibilities of science and scientific discovery. View the Website ⇒

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