"Methamphetamine has become the crack' of the 21st century," Janda says. "We're just starting to unravel its mechanism of addiction." Further studies of the drug are planned, he adds.
Methamphetamine is a powerful psychostimulant that goes by a number of common names, including "speed," "ice" and "crank." It is often made in make-shift laboratories using over-the-counter drug ingredients, particularly cold and allergy medicines. Available as a powder or crystal, the drug can be injected, snorted, swallowed and smoked to provide users with a sense of euphoria. Drug effects can last for up to 12 hours. Frequent use is associated with serious health problems, including memory loss, aggression, psychotic behavior, and potential heart and brain damage.
The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology (at Scripps) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse provided funding for this study. In addition to Janda and Dickerson, other study co-authors include Noboru Yamamoto and Diana Ruiz, also of Scripps.
The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization, chartered by the U.S. Congress, with a multidisciplinary membership of more than 159,000 chemists and chemical engineers. It publishes numerous scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.