College of Medicine researcher earns grant to study addiction

Patricia Sue Grigson, professor of neural and behavioral sciences at Penn State College of Medicine, has received a $2.2 million grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health to look at how a new drug may alter the behavioral and neural conditions created by heroin addiction that lead to relapse. Co-investigators include Robert Bonneau, professor of microbiology and immunology, Willard Freeman, associate professor of pharmacology, and Robert Levenson, professor of pharmacology. Support also is provided for eight student trainees from Lincoln University.

Over the next four years, Grigson and colleagues will conduct preclinical studies on a new drug called depot naltrexone that was recently approved by the FDA for the once-per-month treatment of opiate addiction.

“The study will use a rodent model to investigate whether treatment with depot naltrexone will reverse the heroin-induced impairment of behavioral, physiological, neural and genetic systems that accompanies substance abuse and addiction in humans,” Grigson said. “This project will provide critical preclinical information on the impairments of these systems that persist following opiate detoxification and that are known to contribute to relapse in humans.”

Results from this study will be considered with a related human study also under way at Penn State Hershey.

“The results of this effort may allow for more rapid translation into better treatments for the intractable disease of opiate addiction,” Grigson said.

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Last Updated September 29, 2011