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New Translational Addiction Sciences Center poised to make headway in treatment of addiction
Date:4/25/2014

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has awarded a five-year, $6.6 million grant to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston to establish the Translational Addiction Sciences Center. The center will investigate the mechanisms underlying addiction with the goal of discovering and validating novel treatment options.

Substance addiction can have disastrous personal, economic and social consequences and continues to be one of the world's most serious public health problems. While addiction and associated medical problems are treatable, there is a great opportunity to optimize new therapeutics, particularly for cocaine addiction. As such, the advances in treatment options made by this team of scientists, led by principal investigator Kathryn Cunningham, are poised to impact clinical care of patients.

"Our goals are to identify targets within the brain serotonin system involved in relapse to cocaine use, to design new molecules that selectively affect these targets and to validate these new molecules as potential medications to extend abstinence from cocaine use," said Cunningham, who also directs the UTMB Center for Addiction Research.

To achieve this goal, the Translational Addiction Sciences Center brings together a team of experts from a range of disciplines, including Scott Gilbertson, professor of chemistry at the University of Houston who designs and synthesizes new chemical compounds; Cheryl Watson, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology from UTMB who guides signaling analyses in cellular models; Dr. F. Gerard Moeller, professor of psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine who leads analyses in human subjects; and Cunningham, professor of pharmacology and toxicology who directs pharmacological and neurochemical analyses in phenotypic models of addiction.

The team is pioneering studies to establish receptor proteins that respond to the neurotransmitter serotonin as important regu
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Contact: Maureen Balleza
maballez@utmb.edu
409-772-8785
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Source:Eurekalert

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