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NIDA in the News

December 2009

Research News

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Electronic Diary Captures Moods and Cues Leading to Heroin and Cocaine Use
A technique called ecological momentary assessment (EMA) uses handheld data collection devices, such as personal digital assistants (PDAs) or cellular phones, to report, in real time, on the activities, moods, and cravings experienced by people attempting to quit the use of an addictive drug. EMA has been used most often in studies of smoking cessation, but it is used rarely with people attempting to quit the use of illicit drugs. To assess the feasibility of using EMA to study the moods and cues that may lead to relapse to illicit drug use, investigators at the NIDA Intramural Research Program studied 102 cocaine- and heroin-dependent individuals undergoing methadone outpatient treatment. Read More ⇒

Aging Population of Steroid Abusers May Face Underrecognized Health Problems
Beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the illicit use of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) moved out of the exclusive realm of elite competitive athletics and into the general population. By 1989, the ongoing NIDA-sponsored Monitoring the Future study reported that 3 percent of 12th-grade students had abused AAS in their lifetime. The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) estimated that by 1991, nearly 1 million men aged 12 and older in the United States had abused AAS. The first large wave of these AAS abusers will soon pass the age of 45 and may face underrecognized long-term medical and psychiatric consequences due to their AAS abuse. Read More ⇒

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News Releases

Innovative Community-Based Prevention Reduces Risky Behavior in 10-14 Year Olds
A randomized trial of Communities That Care (CTC), an evidence-based substance-use community-focused prevention system, showed significant reductions in the initiation of alcohol use, tobacco use, binge drinking, and delinquent behavior among middle schoolers as they progressed from the fifth through the eighth grades. The positive results, published in the Sept. 7 Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, demonstrate that community-based coalitions using customized evidence-based approaches can prevent the early initiation of substance abuse and delinquent behavior among youth. NIDA held a town hall prompting this study. More information to come in the next issue. Read More ⇒

NIDA's 2009 Avant-Garde Awards for Innovative HIV/AIDS Research Announced
Four scientists have been selected as this year's winners of the Avant-Garde Award for HIV/AIDS research by NIDA. The annual award competition, now in its second 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. Winning scientists received $500,000 per year, plus associated facilities and administrative costs, for five years to support their research. Read More ⇒

Cocaine Vaccine Shows Promise for Treating Addiction
Immunization with an experimental anti-cocaine vaccine resulted in a substantial reduction in cocaine use in 38 percent of vaccinated patients in a clinical trial supported by NIDA. The study, published in the October issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, is the first successful, placebo-controlled demonstration of a vaccine against an illicit drug of abuse. Read More ⇒

Hot News

Marijuana Queries Double on DRUG FACTS CHAT DAY
chat day
DRUG FACTS CHAT DAY 2009 was a big success! Despite efforts to limit registration, more than 13,000 questions came into CHAT DAY central on November 10th as more than forty NIDA scientists and science writers answered them. Working as quickly as they could, the NIDA team answered close to 1400 questions from 50 schools in 23 states. Among the participants was NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow, who herself responded to more than 100 questions. An informal review of the incoming questions revealed that queries on marijuana more than doubled this year. The chart below—based on estimates—shows the topics that have been the most popular in the past three years.
Chat Day chart

The 2009 DRUG FACTS CHAT DAY transcript is online. For an interesting glimpse into what teens are asking about drugs, take some time to review the questions answered by the CHAT DAY team!

Media Teleconference on Cocaine Vaccine
On October 5, NIDA held a teleconference discussion with national, local, and trade reporters to discuss the findings of a NIDA-funded study in the October issue of Archives of General Psychiatry evaluating the safety and efficacy of a vaccine to treat cocaine addiction. Dr. Volkow and the study's lead investigator, Dr. Thomas Kosten, led the discussion and answered questions from the media. The teleconference was well attended, with nearly 30 media outlets participating, including the New York Times, Reuters, NBC News, Los Angeles Times, Houston Chronicle, McClatchy Newspapers, BBC, Addiction magazine, Scientific American, and Medscape Psychiatry. Listen to Podcast ⇒

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Publications & Website News

PSA screen shot

NIDA Scientists Star in Web Videos
NIDA has expanded the video library on the NIDA Teen Website with three creative new videos on prescription drug abuse and painkillers. The videos feature NIDA scientists Dr. Cindy Miner, Dr. Joni Rutter, and Dr. Wilson Compton talking about the facts and dangers of prescription drug abuse, as well as the safe use of prescription painkillers. Video 1 | Video 2 | Video 3

NIDA Distributes Media Guide to Reporters Nationwide
PSA screen shot
NIDA has produced a new NIDA Media Guide: How to Find What You Need to Know about Drug Abuse and Addiction. The guide is designed to provide journalists with fast and user-friendly access to the latest scientific information on drug abuse and addiction. View the Guide ⇒

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Other News

Rally for Recovery
Recovery Rally photo
Dr. Volkow joined 10,000 others in the second annual Rally for Recovery walk across the Brooklyn Bridge on September 12, sponsored by the partners of National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month and A&E Entertainment.

Other key participants included New York Governor David Paterson, Director of White House Office of National Drug Policy Gil Kerliklowske, SAMHSA's Dr. Westley Clark, A&E President and General Manager Bob DeBitetto, Dr. Tom McLellan, Deputy Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, along with addiction specialists from the A&E show Intervention. Jane Velez-Mitchell, CNN anchor, served as the event emcee.

Recovery Month is an annual observance sponsored by SAMHSA that takes place during the month of September. Recovery Month highlights the societal benefits of substance abuse treatment, lauds the contributions of treatment providers and promotes the message that recovery from substance abuse in all its forms is possible.

New NIDA American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Grants to Study Smoking Cessation Vaccine, Differences in Developing Brains
Recovery Act logo
NIDA recently promoted two new exciting ARRA grants to the media, including the funding of a $10 million grant to Nabi Biopharmaceuticals of Rockville, Maryland to pay for the first phase III trial ever of a smoking cessation vaccine, NicVAX, designed to help people quit and remain abstinent. Given Fast Track designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, NicVAX has already successfully completed a proof-of-concept trial; successful completion of the phase III study will bring the vaccine closer to final approval. NicVAX works by stimulating the immune system to produce antibodies -- in this case -- to the drug nicotine. The antibodies bind to the nicotine molecules, making them too large to enter the brain, thereby subverting the rewarding effects of the drug. Results to date show that smokers who achieved high antibody levels had higher rates of quitting and longer durations of abstinence than those given placebo. A vaccine that limits nicotine's ability to enter the brain and continues to be effective for 6-12 months following vaccination will give smokers a fighting chance to end the addiction/relapse cycle that plagues the great majority of those trying to quit.

NIDA also alerted reporters about an $8.9 million ARRA grant awarded to the University of California, San Diego to fund innovative research to search for links between genetic variation and differences in developing brains. Using digital brain maps, the new dataset will consist of long lists of genetic variants that will be linked to specific features of the brain's structure. Investigators interested in the effects of a particular gene will be able to search for any brain areas or connections between areas that differ as a function of variation in the gene, and also to determine if the genes appear to affect the course of brain development at some point during childhood. The scientists will also be looking for links to the developing behavior of the children. This should give us a better understanding of the role or contribution that specific gene variants have on the developing brain and illuminate their impact on developmental, behavioral, and clinical outcomes. In turn, we may be able to use this knowledge to predict vulnerability to specific disorders and to develop better pharmaceutical and/or behavioral interventions to mitigate, slow down, or reverse their impact.

Captain Judgement
NIDA Grantee Wins Telly Award
NIDA Scientists Dr. John Lochman, a professor and Doddridge Saxon Chair in Clinical Psychology at the University of Alabama, won a Bronze Telly in the 30th Annual Telly Awards for his child-focused video series. The videos consist of a series of multimedia vignettes designed to enhance a "Coping Power" elementary school-based curriculum that teaches children and parents social and emotional skills.

Founded in 1978, the Telly Awards program honors outstanding local, regional and cable TV commercials and programs, film and video productions, and online film and video. The Telly Awards receives over 13,000 entries annually from all 50 states and countries around the world.

NIDA Staff Present at ISAM Conference
Dr. Jag Khalsa
Dr. Jag Khalsa and Dr. Ahmed Elkashef of DPMCDA chaired various symposia at the Annual International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM) conference in Calgary, Canada in September. Dr. Khalsa was honored with an award for his contributions to the Society for the past several years

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