A team of scientists at The University of Texas has received a $3.3 million grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a division of the National Institutes of Health(NIH) to develop a new drug that targets addiction. The new anti-addiction medication will focus on brain signaling systems.
R. Adron Harris, the lead researcher on the project said, “The goal is to take some very new directions for developing medications for alcohol dependence and drug addiction. Addiction is one of the most prevalent health problems in the country, and there are very few medications for treating it.”
Harris has not revealed whether or not the new medication will be a pill. He said it’s too early in the project’s development stage to be certain of the form of drug the team will create.
There are eight researchers on the project. They all have backgrounds in alcohol research and instrumentation techniques. All are affiliated with the University of Texas’ addiction research center and a few of them are members of the College of Pharmacy and the College of Natural Sciences.
Harris states, “It brings together molecular approaches, genetic approaches, behavioral and electrophysiology. It’s all directed at the same question but all being done in different labs by different people.”
The team hopes to identify target areas where alcohol and drugs affect brain chemistry and develop medications that would block these areas from being affected by drugs and alcohol. The team will be split into two separate mini-teams. One group will examine genes related to alcoholism and addiction. The other group will work with peptides that affect brain signaling.