University, VA hospital launch nation's first comprehensive meth research center

PORTLAND, Ore. - Oregon is now home to the nation's first federally funded center for studying methamphetamine abuse from its genetic underpinnings to its prevention through public education programs.

Oregon Health & Science University and the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center have jointly launched the Methamphetamine Abuse Research Center, or MARC, which is funded by a five-year, $5 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health. OHSU and PVAMC also are providing a total of $50,000 per year toward the center.

Employing 20 world-class researchers and physicians, the center will typify "bi-directional" translational research, the so-called bench-to-bedside approach of quickly translating laboratory discoveries into clinical treatments, and using the findings by the clinicians to guide the basic scientists toward the questions that can best be answered with animal models or bench chemistry.

Their goals: better understand the genetic predisposition behind meth addiction and withdrawal symptoms; use rational drug design to develop new therapies; create educational programs for school-age children that improve science education and reduce initiation of meth use; and educate rural clinicians about new information and therapies for their patients affected by meth.

"Very little is understood about meth. There are few, if any, effective pharmacological treatments for addiction. The rate of recidivism is pretty high," said the MARC's director, Aaron Janowsky, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience, OHSU School of Medicine, and research career scientist, PVAMC. "There's a significant amount of evidence showing that when you take just one dose, it has long-lasting effects. We're interested in preventing that one dose, but if it happens, reversing its effects."

Meth addiction is the world's most persistent drug abuse problem. Globally, more people use meth than use

Contact: Jonathan Modie
Oregon Health & Science University

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