In rats that can’t control glutamate, cocaine is less rewarding, staving off relapse

Rats missing a neuroreceptor that controls the release of the neurotransmitter glutamate are less amenable to the rewarding effects of cocaine, increasing their chance of kicking the habit once addicted, researchers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) find. Their work, appearing July 11 in Cell Reports, suggests that the receptor, which protects nerve cells from fatal inundation by excess glutamate, is involved in modulating the reward-seeking behavior associated with drug addiction.

By silencing the gene responsible for expressing the receptor, called mGluR2, the researchers studied its effect across the stages of the cocaine addiction cycle. Rats without the receptor were more likely to consume cocaine when it was made freely available but less likely to seek out cocaine when they had to demonstrate more effort to obtain it. When cocaine was no longer available to them, the rats were quicker to cease the behaviors that had previously resulted in the drug’s delivery. Even when cocaine was subsequently re-introduced, they showed reduced interest for drug seeking, constituting a lower rate of relapse.

Full story of glutamate control from control use at Science Daily

NIDA Will Award Money to Researchers Who Build Apps for Addiction Research

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) will award $100,000 to researchers who develop apps for addiction research, according to Fortune. The apps must be built using Apple’s medical research framework.

NIDA’s challenge, called “Addiction Research: There’s an App for that,” is requiring that app developers use Apple’s ResearchKit, an open-source software kit designed for biomedical and health research that is accessed through an iPhone. In a news release, NIDA says the goal of the challenge is to “create an app to be used by addiction researchers in future studies which will help to improve the scientific understanding of drug use and addiction.”

NIDA hopes the challenge will create apps that help advance scientific research in areas of nicotine, opioids, cannabinoids (including marijuana), methamphetamines and prescription drug use, the article notes.

Full story of researchers who build apps for addiction research at drugfree.org

U.S. Government Awards University of Mississippi $69 Million to Grow Marijuana

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) this week awarded the University of Mississippi $68.8 million to grow and analyze marijuana, Time reports. The university’s marijuana research lab has been the sole producer of federally legal marijuana since 1968.

The lab is planning to grow 30,000 plants, according to the magazine. NIDA requires a “secure and video monitored outdoor facility of approximately 12 acres” that could handle the “cultivation, growing, harvesting, analyzing, and storing of research grade cannabis,” according to a listing posted on a federal government website.

NIDA said it is interested in developing new methods for growing marijuana with a variety of levels of THC, the substance that creates a “high” effect. It also will grow marijuana with different levels of cannabidiol, which is being studied as a treatment for various medical disorders including epilepsy.

Full story of University of Mississippi and marijuana grant at drugfree.org

NIDA Releases New Guide on Treating Teen Substance Abuse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is releasing new resources to help parents, health care providers and substance abuse treatment specialists treat teens who are struggling with drug abuse. The resources also provide advice on identifying and interacting with teens who may be at risk.

The resources are being released in advance of National Drug Facts Week, January 27 to February 2, when communities and schools around the country will host events to allow teens to learn how drugs affect the brain, body and behavior.

Full story of new guide at drugfree.org