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Novel Compound Shows Promise for Treatment of Alcoholism

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Sept. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --- Southern Research Institute and Gallo Research Center today announced that peer-reviewed results from a study testing Naltrexone-derived pyridomorphinan (SoRI-9409) will be published in the December 2008 issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry. The publication is available online today at the journal's website, and suggests that a new compound that causes selective and long-lasting reduction in ethanol consumption might be a promising candidate as a novel treatment for alcoholism.

The article, "A Novel Delta Opioid Receptor Antagonist, SoRI-9409, Produces a Selective and Long-Lasting Decrease in Ethanol Consumption in Heavy-Drinking Rats" by Selena Bartlett, BPharm PhD, Director of Preclinical Development Group at the Gallo Research Center at University of California San Francisco, et al presents the effects of SoRI-9409 on ethanol consumption. These are promising developments for the treatment of alcoholism. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) estimates 15.1 million people are alcohol-abusing or alcohol-dependent individuals. There are currently only three FDA-approved options for the treatment of alcoholism.

The compound, SoRI-9409, was first designed and synthesized in Southern Research's Drug Discovery research division by Dr. Subramaniam (Sam) Ananthan under U.S. Government Grant DA008883. "Southern Research has been particularly interested in ligands that interact with opioid delta receptor subtype since such ligands hold promise as therapeutic agents for treatment of drug addictions and other disorders," said Dr. Ananthan, senior scientist and manager of Computational Chemistry and CNS Discovery Chemistry at Southern Research Institute. "The present findings by Dr. Bartlett and her group on the effect of SoRI-9409 on its ability to reduce alcohol intake not only provides us with a new drug lead, but also serves as the impetus for further research aimed at discovery of new therapeutic compounds for treating alcoholism and related disorders."

The Preclinical Development Group that Dr. Bartlett leads at the UCSF-affiliated Gallo Center was established to develop new treatments and bridge the gap between research and clinical treatment. The purpose of the study was to find improved compounds for the treatment of alcoholism. "The study results demonstrate that this compound causes selective and long-lasting reductions of ethanol consumption and suggests the compound might be a promising candidate as a novel treatment for alcoholism. This study indicates that compounds with a higher affinity for delta opioid receptors and reduced affinity for mu opioid receptors might be better treatment candidates than Naltrexone, the current FDA approved treatment for alcoholism", said Dr. Bartlett.

"The study on SoRI-9409 and alcohol cessation has yielded vital data that will help fuel novel treatments for a devastating and very difficult-to-treat illness," said Dr. Bartlett. "To date, we have considered and evaluated other compounds, and theories, but the information yielded from this study, along with previous research on this particular compound, has proven to be the most promising to date. We are looking forward to collaborating with our partner, Southern Research, to enter the next phase of research." The research was also supported by the State of California for Medical Research on Alcohol and Substance Abuse and Department of Defense.

Southern Research operates a successful drug discovery research program resulting in six FDA approved drugs with six additional drug candidates in late-stage preclinical and early clinical development.

"Much of our success stems from having a highly successful medicinal chemistry group, and seeking out collaborators who are driven to help us develop new lead compounds and bring those drugs to market," said David Harris, director of Business Development for the Drug Discovery Division at Southern Research. "We're happy to be working with Gallo on this promising new drug to treat alcohol addiction. It is another example of Southern Research's commitment to finding therapies for some of our society's most challenging diseases."

First author on the paper is Carsten Nielsen, PhD, a postdoctoral scientist working with Bartlett. Co-authors are Jeffrey A. Simms, Haley B. Pierson, Rui Li at the Gallo Clinic and Research Center and Surendra K. Saini and Subramaniam (Sam) Ananthan at Southern Research Institute.

About Southern Research Institute

Southern Research Institute is a not-for-profit organization that conducts basic and applied research in the areas of preclinical drug discovery, vaccine and drug development, advanced engineering, environmental research and energy production. To date, Southern Research has discovered six FDA-approved cancer drugs and discovered six additional drugs that are currently in late stage preclinical and early clinical trials. No other company or institution has brought six of its own cancer drug discoveries to market. For more information, please visit

About the Gallo Research Center

The Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center (Gallo Center) is one of the world's preeminent academic centers for the study of the biological basis of alcohol and substance abuse. Gallo Center discoveries of potential molecular targets for the development of therapeutic medications are extended through preclinical and proof-of-concept clinical studies. The Center is part of the UCSF Department of Neurology. UCSF is a leading university that advances health worldwide by conducting advanced biomedical research, educating graduate students in the life sciences and health professions, and providing complex patient care. For more information, please visit and

Rhonda Jung, 205-337-9634

Southern Research Institute

Amanda Lazaro, 781-684-0770

Schwartz Communications, Inc.

Kristen Bole, 415-476-2557

University of California, San Francisco

SOURCE Southern Research Institute
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