Donate to Science & Enterprise

S&E on Mastodon

S&E on LinkedIn

S&E on Flipboard

Please share Science & Enterprise

NIH Grant Awarded for Smoking Relapse Prevention Drug

Paul Kenny (Scripps Research Institute)

Paul Kenny (Scripps Research Institute)

National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida a grant to develop drugs that help prevent relapse in smokers who are kicking the habit. The five-year $8.4 million grant will support a team led by Scripps researcher Paul Kenny (pictured right).

Scripps cites World Health Organization statistics that smoking kills some 5 million people worldwide and by 2020 will become the world’s largest single health problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says nicotine dependence is the most common form of chemical dependence in the U.S., with many smokers needing multiple attempts to quit. CDC says in 2010, a little more than half (52%) of adult smokers stopped smoking for at least one day.

Kenny’s research focuses on peptides in nerve tissue that, when blocked, decreases the desire for nicotine, at least in tests on animals in the lab. The neuropeptide, known as hypocretin-1, starts a signaling cascade that keeps human smokers addicted. In an earlier lab study, Kenny showed that blocking hypocretin-1 receptors decreased nicotine use in animals, and abolished the stimulatory effects of nicotine on reward nerve centers in the brain.

Kenny’s earlier research also highlighted the role played by the hypocretin-1 receptors in the insula, a small part of the brain’s frontal lobe that appears related to cravings. A study reported in 2007 that people who suffered damage to the insula were quickly able to give up cigarettes.

The Scripps lab headed by Kenny conducts research on the molecular neurobiology of drug addiction and obesity, to develop new therapies for these disorders. Their studies involve behavioral genetics, viral-mediated gene transfer, protein, and RNA biology, combined with complex behavioral procedures to better understand the mechanics of addiction and obesity.

Read more:

Elsewhere on Science & Enterprise . . .

*     *     *

1 comment to NIH Grant Awarded for Smoking Relapse Prevention Drug