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UTMB wins $3.4 million federal grant to study addiction-recovery drugs
Date:2/7/2008

for the drug when again exposed to the same sounds and lights. When the scientists activated the 5-HT2C receptor or blocked the 5-HT2A receptor, the rats were significantly less likely to initiate such "relapses."

Changes in serotonin signaling have also been implicated in such disorders as depression, anxiety and anorexia, Cunningham said. Recent experiments have led the UTMB investigators to believe that drugs affecting the 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptors may also curb compulsive overeating and obesity.

"Our ongoing research strongly suggests that drug therapies aimed at the 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptors could be potent weapons against both cocaine addiction and obesity, two of the most significant public health problems facing the U.S.," Cunningham said. "We hope this research will bring us closer to developing treatments for substance abuse and addiction that are as effective as those used for such other conditions as high blood pressure, asthma and diabetes."

The new program is divided into three parts.

A clinical research component, directed by Professor F. Gerard Moeller of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, will investigate the responses of cocaine addicts to two antidepressants that increase the concentration of serotonin in nerve cell synapses.

A neurobiology project, headed by Cunningham, will use laboratory rat experiments to study the effects of new compounds specifically targeted at the 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptors (two of 14 known serotonin receptor subtypes).

Finally, a drug-design project led by UTMB chemical biologist Scott Gilbertson will seek to produce new molecules that could become powerful anti-addiction drugs themselves.

The entire effort will be supported by a cellular and molecular biology core lab directed by UTMB biochemistry and molecular biology professor Cheryl Watson, enabling the researchers to perform genetic analyses of serotonin function in individua
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Contact: Jim Kelly
jpkelly@utmb.edu
409-772-8791
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Source:Eurekalert

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