The first part of the study seeks to determine the baseline for what hydrocodone does to normal healthy subjects. The researchers will look for changes to a variety of body systems after healthy volunteers take the drug. The systems they're looking at include the pain response, inflammation, and stress -- all known to be involved in hydrocodone's effect.
"Partnering with the 59th Medical Wing takes advantage of the strengths in each group," said PNNL biologist Karin Rodland, chief scientist for biomedical research and co-investigator on the team.
Because the Air Force researchers have extensive expertise in toxicology and drug metabolism at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, they will perform the part of the study that looks at how hydrocodone gets metabolized. Backed by PNNL's expertise in the field of proteomics, the PNNL team will check for changes in about 2000 different protein levels using state-of-the-art instruments in EMSL, DOE's Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory on the PNNL campus.
The baseline studies will take two to three years to complete. Armed with a baseline, the researchers will be able to conduct other experiments with hydrocodone-dependent patients to look for indicators that identify those who are most likely to abuse it.
Eventually, the team's goal is for a clear understanding of a dependent patient's complete physiological response to opioids. They are hopeful they will find a susceptibility marker and discover new ways to personalize opioid pain medicine. "That would require a systems biology level of understanding of a person's response to opiate," said Rodland, "but we hope we get the chance to try."
|Contact: Mary Beckman|
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory