Archived News Releases

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Learning how to disrupt cocaine’s effects on the brain

 |  Just published research by scientists at NIDA’s Intramural Research Program reveals that the drug cocaine causes neurons to synthesize endocannabinoids that are then enclosed within membrane-bound packages, known as extracellular vesicles. Designing drugs or tools to manipulate the protein interactions underlying vesicle release could provide a new way to counter cocaine addiction.

Changing the way we view opioid receptors

 |  Newly published research from NIDA funded scientists offers new insight into how opioid receptors work to regulate chemical communication in the brain. The researchers discover unexpected receptor mobility and diffusion, and also find that receptor binding and signaling can occur in separate steps.

New discovery on the brain’s reward pathway

 |  Scientists at NIDA’s Intramural Research Program (IRP) have identified a population of neurons engaged in the compulsive nature of food seeking, which, like substance use, engage the brain’s reward circuit. Investigators have identified lateral hypothalamic leptin receptor-expressing neurons as modulators within the hypothalamic-ventral tegmental circuit that relates to motivation and reward.

Healing the altered brains of smokers

 |  A study from NIDA’s Intramural Research Program illuminates the roles of the brain’s striatum and habenula in nicotine withdrawal and reward, suggesting that current medications for smoking cessation are not targeting the optimal parts of the brain, leading to ongoing reward processing deficits that could make pleasurable activities less enjoyable.

Measuring sleep challenges in opioid use disorder patients

 |  A new study at NIDA’s Intramural Research Center measured sleep patterns in opioid use disorder patients and found that clinic appointment hours make a difference in sleep quality. They also documented that when patients use opioids or other drugs while undergoing treatment, it disrupts their sleep.

Teen e-cigarette use doubles since 2017

 |  Data from the 2019 Monitoring the Future Survey of eighth, 10th and 12th graders show alarmingly high rates of e-cigarette use compared to just a year ago, with rates doubling in the past two years.

NASEM releases National Agenda on Children’s Behavioral Health

 |  The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has released a national scientific agenda on Fostering Healthy Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Development in Children and Youth, recommending a comprehensive approach to better prevent poor outcomes in children related to mental health and substance use. The report notes that despite the development of effective evidence-based programs in recent years, much of what we know has not yet been implemented in many communities, and rates of depression, suicide, and self-harm among young people have actually been increasing.

Parenting programs lead to healthier behaviors

 |  A study conducted among 517 youth in the rural areas of the southeastern United States demonstrates the effectiveness of a parenting enhancement program in both preventing drug use and obesity, two potentially life-threatening conditions for which people living in disadvantaged communities are at an elevated risk.

Similarities between aggressive and addictive behaviors

 |  Scientists from NIDA’s Intramural Research Program show that neural mechanisms that control appetitive aggressive behavior are similar to those that control drug-taking and seeking (relapse), suggesting common neurobiological mechanisms of aggression reward and drug reward.

Opioids without the risk of addiction?

 |  Investigators have found that the opioid-galanin receptor heteromers determine the different effects of methadone as compared to morphine and fentanyl, showing methadone with a weaker ability to activate the dopaminergic system linked to the euphoric effects of opioids.

Dr. Jack Stein appointed NIDA Chief of Staff

 |  Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), has appointed Jack B. Stein, Ph.D., to be the NIDA Chief of Staff, a newly created position to support and assist the Director with coordination and strategic planning of key institute initiatives.

The Genius of Chemogenetics

 |  Some NIDA-funded scientists have just published findings in the journal Science showing the development of a new, groundbreaking chemogenetics technology for modulating brain function in a remote, precise and ultra-sensitive manner in living subjects.

The brain in pain

 |  NIDA-funded researchers identified a critical role for an internal brain opioid network called the dynorphin-kappa opioid receptor (KOR) system.

A whole new view of CB2

 |  NIDA-funded scientists have recently identified the crystal structure of the CB1 receptor and have some understanding of how it modulates the system.

New Insights for Astrocytes

 |  Scientists at NIDA's Intramural Research Program have just published a study suggesting that ventral midbrain astrocytes are physiologically distinct from astrocytes in other parts of the brain.

Teens using vaping devices in record numbers

 |  America’s teens report a dramatic increase in their use of vaping devices in just a single year, with 37.3 percent of 12th graders reporting “any vaping” in the past 12 months, compared to just 27.8 percent in 2017.

A look at drug craving

 |  Studies using animal models of addiction have shown that drug seeking progressively increases after drug self-administration stops, which is a phenomenon called incubation of drug craving.

E-Cigs linked to heart attacks

 |  An analysis of health data concludes that e-cigarette use, adjusted for smoking conventional cigarettes and other risk factors, is associated with increased risk of myocardial infarction, which is commonly known as a heart attack caused by blockage of the arteries.

Journal commentary addresses role of dentists in opioid crisis

 |  The commentary, authored by Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and Dr. Martha Somerman, director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, both parts of the National Institutes of Health, highlights how the Institutes are working together to support scientific research for those in clinical practice.