Drug Addiction & Toxicology

Drug addiction is a chronic brain disease that has tremendous social and economical implications.

Proposed mechanism for GP120-induced synapse lossProposed mechanism for GP120-induced synapse Loss (from Kim et al, Mol. Pharmacol 2011)

The key questions in understanding the problem of drug addiction are why some individuals will and others will not transit from casual drug use to compulsive use (addiction), and why drug relapse is so common independent on the time from last drug use.

In addressing these key questions, the faculty in this research focus area use multidisciplinary approaches involving cell and animal models in order to elucidate the neuroplasticity occurred during chronic drug usage. These studies encompass the cellular regulation of receptors, drug transporters, ion channels activities that are altered by chronic drug usage.

The genetic basis for drug addiction is another focus of this group of faculty. In addition to the use of genetically altered animal models, association of polymorphism in genes and drug addiction is also being investigated in human population. Developing treatment paradigm or drug molecules that could reduce the propensity of drug addiction is also a focus of this faculty group.