JUPITER, FL, May 14, 2012 Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute has been awarded an $8.4 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop new compounds to help prevent relapse in smokers who are kicking the habit.
The new five-year NIH award is a program project grant, which is designed to support an institutionally based research program with a well-defined research focus that requires several interrelated subprojects as part of the overall study.
Paul Kenny, a Scripps Research associate professor, is the program director and principal investigator for the study.
"This really is a broad-based, multi-disciplinary team effort," Kenny said. "We've assembled a team of first-class scientists at Scripps Florida with all the experience necessary to develop novel therapeutics for the treatment of tobacco abuse."
Others involved in the study are Michael Cameron, Theodore Kamenecka, and Patricia McDonald of The Translational Research Institute on the Scripps Florida campus.
Tobacco smoking is a global scourge, killing more than 5 million people each year worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. It is estimated that if current trends continue, by 2020 smoking will become the largest single health problem worldwide. The World Bank estimates that in high-income countries, smoking-related healthcare accounts for between 6 and 15 percent of all healthcare costs, some $160 billion annually.
Nicotine addiction is notoriously hard to break. Even with the most effective smoking-cessation agents available, more than 80 percent of smokers who quit or attempt to quit will relapse.
To combat these dismal statistics, the study is focused on an entirely new mechanism to help smokers break the habit.
That mechanism is a receptor for a specific neuropeptide (short chain of amino acids found in nerve tiss
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Scripps Research Institute