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Exploring new methods to fight drug addiction

June 13, 2014

The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) has received a five-year, $1.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute on Drug Abuse to study the mechanisms by which phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitors reduce addictive behaviors.

Qing-Song Liu, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at MCW, is the principal investigator of the grant.

Research in the Liu laboratory focuses on understanding how cocaine alters neuronal communication and the neural circuits that make up the brain’s “reward” centers. These so-called reward centers are key targets of many drugs of abuse.

Substance abuse is a serious public health problem and there are currently no FDA-approved medications for treating cocaine addiction. PDE inhibitors have been shown to be effective in the treatment or management of non-addiction conditions, such as respiratory disease and depression, and have been demonstrated to counteract addictive behaviors. PDE inhibitors are therefore promising candidates as anti-addiction medications with additional potential health benefits. The major goal of this grant is to identify the cellular pathways and components by which PDE inhibitors reduce addictive behaviors.

The results of this project will advance the understanding of the mechanisms of addiction and may impact treatment strategies for substance abuse.

This project is supported by NIH grant number 1R01DA035217-01A1.

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