The Friends of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) hosted its eleventh congressional briefing on July 29. The educational event was held in conjuncture with the Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus, sponsored by 22 scientific and professional organizations and coordinated by Science Government Relations Office (SGRO) staff. “Developing New Tools to Prevent and Treat Addiction: Vaccine Development on the Horizon,” was a smash hit, drawing a crowd of 125, at least half of whom were congressional staff representing over 52 House and Senate Member offices.
The expert panel outlined the growing body of research on vaccines used as an addiction treatment and prevention tool. This innovative approach has the potential to profoundly impact the public’s health, as drugs of abuse have powerful influences over behavior through their actions on the brain, particularly in those circuits involved in reward and motivation. Immunization is a strategy that seems ideally suited to address this problem. NIDA has embraced the concept and is guiding, in collaboration with pharmaceutical companies, an important vaccine development effort.
Nora Volkow, MD, Director of NIDA, opened the briefing with an overview of the Institute’s research portfolio as it relates to medications development and vaccine treatments for addiction. Psychologist Michael Owens, PhD, Professor and Director of the Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse and a Wilbur Mills Endowed Chair in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, then discussed developing research on antibody-based medications for use in treating methamphetamine addiction. Next, Thomas Kosten, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine and Research Director of the VA National Substance Use Disorders Quality Enhancement Research Initiative, shared his results from clinical trials with potential vaccines for treating cocaine addiction. And finally, APA Fellow, Dorothy Hatsukami, PhD, Professor in both the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Minnesota and Director of the Tobacco Research Program and Associate Director of the Masonic Cancer Center, discussed her studies of vaccine development for the treatment of nicotine dependence.
The incredible attendance and depth of questions from the audience during the panel discussion following the presentations demonstrated a strong interest in the topic.
For more information on the Friends of NIDA, please send an email to Christine Jamieson.
Dr. Volkow's presentation [PDF]
Dr. Owen's presentation [PDF]
Dr. Kosten's presentation [PDF]
Dr. Hatsukami's presentation [PDF]
Pictures from the briefing: