Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Looking for Secrets to Drug Addiction in Our Blood

22.09.2010
PNNL and Air Force 59th to develop better tests for drug abuse and dependence

A new collaboration between the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Air Force's 59th Medical Wing hopes to improve on drug tests for illicit drug use and abuse. Not only are the researchers looking for a better indicator of current or past use, but they'd like to be able to identify people prone to abusing drugs in the first place.

Funded by the Department of Defense, the $850,000 two-year study will lay the foundation for future work to determine who might be susceptible to hydrocodone. Initially, the collaboration will map out drug breakdown products, proteins and other compounds that healthy bodies make in response to the prescription painkiller hydrocodone.

"We want to enhance the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of drug addiction. Our military deserves the best care we can give them," said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Vikhyat Bebarta, a research physician in the 59th Medical Wing at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas. Bebarta will be co-leading the study with biochemist Josh Adkins of PNNL.

The results will likely extend beyond the military. "Any tools for drug addiction that come out of this study could also be used by the general public," said Adkins.

Just as some genes confer a susceptibility to alcoholism, the team hopes to find some indicator of susceptibility to dependence on painkillers such as hydrocodone. Instead of a gene, though, the researchers hope to find a difference in how a susceptible person responds to the drug, compared to a nonsusceptible one. If such an indicator exists in blood, urine or saliva, not only would it improve our understanding of the biological response to hydrocodone, but tests that reveal the indicator could be developed.

Dependency tendency

The painkiller hydrocodone is one of the most abused drugs in the U.S. Its use, abuse and addictive potential pose special concern for the armed forces, whose members suffer trauma more often than the average civilian. Hydrocodone is an opioid closely related to the opiate morphine. Both military and civilian doctors are prescribing hydrocodone more often, making it more accessible for people to misuse and abuse.

The rising prescription rate and greater availability has likely contributed to an increase in number of patients in treatment. Admission for drug abuse treatment programs for hydrocodone and related opiates more than quadrupled between 1997 and 2007, according to a 2007 report from the National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services. (This does not include the opiate heroin, which remained stable over that time.)

Knowing if a military member is misusing or abusing hydrocodone is essential to national security and to the safety of military personnel. In 2005, the Department of Defense found that 7.3% of active duty personnel across all branches of the military had used analgesics including hydrocodone without a medical need in the previous year.

Finding users

Doctors have several tests to determine who is using hydrocodone or other illicit drugs, but they are inadequate. The simplest -- a screening questionnaire -- is not definitive. And current blood or urine tests for hydrocodone only determine whether the drug been used in the last few hours or days. In addition, several drugs cross react in the blood test, making them unreliable.

More important, there is no current screening test for recent or past hydrocodone use. Psychotherapeutics rank right behind marijuana as the most commonly abused drugs among the military and civilians, and hydrocodone and other pain relievers are the most popular of the psychotherapeutics.

To determine if someone had been using hydrocodone in the recent past, the researchers will take snapshots of changes that can be detected in blood or urine. "We already know how it works in the brain, so we will focus on the body. Hydrocodone has a physiological response on the whole body to fight pain," said Bebarta.

The first part of the study seeks to determine the baseline for what hydrocodone does to normal healthy subjects. The researchers will look for changes to a variety of body systems after healthy volunteers take the drug. The systems they're looking at include the pain response, inflammation, and stress -- all known to be involved in hydrocodone's effect.

"Partnering with the 59th Medical Wing takes advantage of the strengths in each group," said PNNL biologist Karin Rodland, chief scientist for biomedical research and co-investigator on the team.

Because the Air Force researchers have extensive expertise in toxicology and drug metabolism at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, they will perform the part of the study that looks at how hydrocodone gets metabolized. Backed by PNNL's expertise in the field of proteomics, the PNNL team will check for changes in about 2000 different protein levels using state-of-the-art instruments in EMSL, DOE's Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory on the PNNL campus.

The baseline studies will take two to three years to complete. Armed with a baseline, the researchers will be able to conduct other experiments with hydrocodone-dependent patients to look for indicators that identify those who are most likely to abuse it.

Eventually, the team's goal is for a clear understanding of a dependent patient's complete physiological response to opioids. They are hopeful they will find a susceptibility marker and discover new ways to personalize opioid pain medicine. "That would require a systems biology level of understanding of a person's response to opiate," said Rodland, "but we hope we get the chance to try."

EMSL, the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory located at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, is a national scientific user facility sponsored by the Department of Energy's Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research program. EMSL offers an open, collaborative environment for scientific discovery to researchers around the world. EMSL’s technical experts and suite of custom and advanced instruments are unmatched. Its integrated computational and experimental capabilities enable researchers to realize fundamental scientific insights and create new technologies.EMSL's Facebook page.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is a Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory where interdisciplinary teams advance science and technology and deliver solutions to America's most intractable problems in energy, national security and the environment. PNNL employs 4,700 staff, has an annual budget of nearly $1.1 billion, and has been managed by Ohio-based Battelle since the lab's inception in 1965. Follow PNNL on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Mary Beckman | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.pnl.gov/news/

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>