Research helping combat drug addiction
(Medical Xpress) -- Better help with battling drug addiction could be at hand as a result of research underway at Victoria University of Wellington.
Dr Bronwyn Kivell, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences, is screening a number of anti-addiction compounds that may ultimately form the basis of medications that help reduce cravings and prevent relapses for people addicted to psychostimulants such as cocaine or methamphetamine.
Collaborating with a medicinal chemist at the University of Kansas in the United States along with her Victoria University colleague Professor Susan Schenk, Dr Kivell is investigating ways of targeting a protein in the brain, called the kappa opioid receptor, which can alter a persons perception of mood, reward and pain.
The researchers are focused on a Mexican herb called salvia divinorum, also known as Mexican or Tijuana tripping weed, a powerful hallucinogen that has been chewed by Mexican Indians for centuries.
Most hallucinogenic substances affect serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the body that influences peoples sense of well-being, but Dr Kivell says salvia is different.
"It has a unique structure and contains compounds that we think could have anti-addictive properties."
The compounds are being developed at the University of Kansas and tested at Victoria University.
A usual problem with compounds that target kappa opioid receptors, says Dr Kivell, is their tendency to have extreme side effects such as nausea and depression.
"However, some of those we are testing have much milder side effects."
Another strand of Dr Kivells research targets more effective therapies to help people stop smoking. She says while nicotine is the major addictive component in cigarettes, there are many other things in cigarette smoke that contribute to addiction.
Her research, being carried out with Crown Research Institute ESR (Institute of Environmental Science and Research), is studying the role of a number of minor tobacco alkaloids.
"Most tools to help people quit smoking are based on nicotine replacement and have relatively low success rates. Our goal is to work out if it is feasible to develop other anti-smoking aids that target proteins in the brain that are involved in addiction."
Dr Kivell, who completed her PhD at Victoria, has also carried out drug addiction research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Baltimore in the United States.
She returned to Victoria to work on a ground-breaking project that is looking at both the cell biology and the behavioural patterns resulting from long-term use of MDMA or ecstasy.
The work is a collaboration between Victorias School of Biological Sciences and School of Psychology and aims to better understand the changes ecstasy causes in the brains neurochemistry and its impact on behaviour.
"Drug addiction research is exciting science and its also very relevant. Banning every mind-altering drug is not going to work so we need to find therapies to help people with their addiction.
"Its a very complex field and there is a lot yet to understand about why some people who take drugs get addicted and others dont."
Dr Kivell has had funding from the Neurological Foundation, the Wellington Medical Research Foundation and the Health Research Council (HRC).
Provided by Victoria University
- Roll-your-own tobacco could be more addictive Jan 12, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Smokers' genetic background impacts brain opioid receptors, smoking relapse May 16, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- A vaccine for nicotine? Oct 04, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Discovering new drugs to fight TB Aug 30, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Abnormal brain structure linked to chronic cocaine abuse Jun 21, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
23 hours ago Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
Alcohol and acetaminophen
May 13, 2013 Edit: sorry for the typo in the title , can't edit I looked around on google quite a bit and it's very hard to find precise information on the...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
Trends in Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and smoking explain a significant proportion of the decline of intestinal-type noncardia gastric adenocarcinoma (NCGA) incidence in US men between 1978 and 2008, and are estimated ...
Medical research 13 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Widely available in pharmacies and health stores, phosphatidylserine is a natural food supplement produced from beef, oysters, and soy. Proven to improve cognition and slow memory loss, it's a popular treatment for older ...
Medical research 18 hours ago | 5 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Researchers at Emory University have identified a protein that stimulates a pair of "orphan receptors" found in the brain, solving a long-standing biological puzzle and possibly leading to future treatments for neurological ...
Medical research 18 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Australian scientists have charted the path of insulin action in cells in precise detail like never before. This provides a comprehensive blueprint for understanding what goes wrong in diabetes.
Medical research 19 hours ago | 4.6 / 5 (7) | 0 |
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine will study gender differences in how the heart uses and stores fat—its main energy source—and how changes in fat metabolism play ...
Medical research 22 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Is it permissible to harm one to save many? Those who tend to say "yes" when faced with this classic dilemma are likely to be deficient in a specific kind of empathy, according to a report published in the scientific journal ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Phthalates: Study links chemicals widely found in plastics, processed food to elevated blood pressure in children, teens
Plastic additives known as phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates) are odorless, colorless and just about everywhere: They turn up in flooring, plastic cups, beach balls, plastic wrap, intravenous tubing and—according to the ...
2 hours ago | not rated yet | 1 |
(Medical Xpress)—Native peoples in regions where cameras are uncommon sometimes react with caution when their picture is taken. The fear that something must have been stolen from them to create the photo ...
19 hours ago | 4.2 / 5 (5) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Despite spending billions of dollars on research and development, drug companies have been unable to come up with effective treatments for dementia and Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Now, A. ...
17 hours ago | 4.9 / 5 (14) | 0 |
Activating an enzyme known to play a role in the anti-aging benefits of calorie restriction delays the loss of brain cells and preserves cognitive function in mice, according to a study published in the May ...
13 hours ago | 5 / 5 (5) | 0 |