خانه / Science / New center will examine addiction at molecular level, develop treatments

New center will examine addiction at molecular level, develop treatments

Danny Winder

Danny Winder, founding director of the Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research. (Vanderbilt University)

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New center will examine addiction at molecular level, develop treatments

by Bill Snyder

Vanderbilt University researchers from diverse scientific disciplines are joining forces to help crack the stubborn mysteries of addiction.

Through the new Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research (VCAR), their goal is to define the molecular events that drive addictive behavior and, ultimately, to develop new treatments that can help people sustain long-term recovery.

“Addiction is a brain disease, a chronic disease that needs to be managed as we would manage any other chronic disease,” said the center’s founding director, Danny Winder, Ph.D., professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, Pharmacology and Psychiatry.

Vanderbilt University researchers from diverse scientific disciplines are joining forces to help crack the stubborn mysteries of addiction.

Through the new Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research (VCAR), their goal is to define the molecular events that drive addictive behavior and, ultimately, to develop new treatments that can help people sustain long-term recovery.

“Addiction is a brain disease, a chronic disease that needs to be managed as we would manage any other chronic disease,” said the center’s founding director, Danny Winder, Ph.D., professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, Pharmacology and Psychiatry.

“Never in the history of neuroscience has there been a more rapid pace of advancement in the types of tools that we have at our disposal to ask questions about the brain,” Winder said. These technologies “allow us to control the activity of individual populations of neurons in different brain regions.”

The recent and alarming “epidemic” in the abuse of prescription painkillers (opioids) in the United States highlights the urgency of the research effort, Winder said. That’s on top of the societal problems caused by alcoholism and abuse of other drugs.

Winder studies the effect of chronic alcohol exposure and withdrawal on signaling pathways in the brain that regulate mood. Anxiety and mood disorders induced by withdrawal from alcohol can make it difficult for many alcoholics to remain sober.

Relapse can happen years after the alcoholic or addict has stopped drinking or taking drugs. One of VCAR’s goals, he said, is to understand the neural mechanisms that drive the craving for alcohol and drugs so that novel strategies can be developed to prevent relapse.

Through research, education and outreach, “VCAR seeks to have a positive impact on the disease of addiction, both locally and globally,” Winder said. “Ultimately, we’d like to find ways to prevent it.”

source : Vanderbilt University · Nashville, Tennessee

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