"Science has clearly shown that drug addiction results from profound disruptions in brain structure and function, presenting numerous potential targets for medications development—yet, few medications have come to fruition. The array of problem-solving approaches submitted by the awardees could help us quicken the pace to find urgently needed medications for addiction.”
This statement was made by Nora Volkow, MD. As the head of NIDA--- a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services--- Dr Volkow was announcing a research award for an amazing strategy to stop addiction: immunotherapy!
A University of Cincinnati (UC) researcher, Andrew Norman, PhD, a professor in the psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience department, will receive $2.5 million over five years from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The grant will support his work to stop cocaine addiction.
Dr Norman is one of four winners of the NIDA’s first Translational Avant-Garde Awards for Innovative Medication Development Research. Award winners receive $500,000 per year for five years to support their research.
Norman, (in collaboration with W. James Ball, PhD, of the pharmacology and cell biophysics department), is working on the development of a human monoclonal antibody (an antibody derived from a single cell for use against a specific target) against cocaine.
Injected into the bloodstream, the antibody would attach to cocaine, preventing it from entering the brain (limiting its behavioral effects). This humanized monoclonal antibody has previously been shown by Norman and Ball to reduce cocaine’s effects in an animal model of relapse.
The other three awardees are William Brimijoin, PhD, of the Mayo Clinic; Jia Bei Wang, PhD, of the University of Maryland at Baltimore; and Daniele Piomelli, PhD, of the University of California, Irvine. Brimijoin and Wang are also researching cocaine therapies.
And--- Dr Piomelli will use his grant to develop a new medication for one of the all-time record-breaking global killers--- nicotine addiction!