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Aussie neuroscientist tests addiction drug
Date:2/19/2008

UQ pharmacy graduate Dr Selena Bartlett is starting clinical trials of a new drug that could potentially curb addictions such as smoking, drinking, gambling even depression.

The drug, marketed as Chantix by Pfizer, has reduced alcohol consumption in laboratory rats by 50 percent and will be trialled in humans next month by Dr Bartlett and Dr Markus Heilig's team in the United States.

Chantix latches onto good feeling' receptors in the brain to block cravings for addictions such as nicotine or alcohol.

Dr Bartlett is the Director of the Preclinical Development Group at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Centre, one of the world's top alcohol and addiction research centres, at the University of California in San Francisco.

She said she was convinced of the drug's potential but it had been hard to convince others, despite the drug gaining widespread media attention in the US.

Big companies still do not believe in the potential of addiction as a market, believe it or not, Dr Bartlett said.

The Chantix trials are just one of 10 major projects for Dr Bartlett's lab team, which is working on reducing ethanol consumption and new drug screening technologies.

Dr Bartlett was asked to set up her preclinical lab to study addiction and how it modifies brain function.

I wanted to make a difference in the world and develop treatments that would help people, she said.

Addiction is currently one of the most under-served and least understood.

Her passion for understanding brain functions stemmed from her late-sister who had schizophrenia.

She is still very much a driving force in my life and the reason I am doing this type of translational research.

She also hopes to create a Foundation to fund research and develop better treatments for neuropsychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia, in memory of her sister.

Dr Bartlett grew up in the small South B
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Contact: Miguel Holland
m.holland@uq.edu.au
61-733-652-619
Research Australia
Source:Eurekalert

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