SEP 10, 2018 11:57 AM PDT

The Immune System: A New Hope for Opioid Addiction?

WRITTEN BY: Nicholas Breehl

As the death toll for opioid addiction rises to a total of 115 deaths per day average, researchers race to determine the underlying factors that drive these addictions. Opioid addictions result from the overuse of certain pain-relieving medications, heroin, and even fentanyl – a synthetic opioid with extremely high potency. Drug abuse not only hurts the user and their loved ones, but also has economic impacts that include the cost of healthcare, criminal litigation, and time away from work. It is for reasons such as these that we see individuals like Erin Calipari, assistant professor of pharmacology at Vanderbilt University, dedicating their efforts to discovering ways that can combat addiction.

Calipari and her team have recently submitted their research in the Journal of Neuroscience, suggesting there are specific immune system peptides, molecules that are involved in cell signaling, which could have effects on the brains activity and how it relates to addiction. “There are factors within the immune system that are directly changing the way that these brain reward systems drive behavior,” explains Erin. Calipari suggests the immune system may have a degree of control over cravings. Her team has displayed that by altering the immune peptides, they were able to manipulate sugar cravings in murine models.

There are many factors at play with drug addiction which is defined by the NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse defines drug addiction as “a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.” Calipari is working with Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to determine how her work can be made useful to human patients.

Vanderbilt recognizes that drug abuse is a public health threat. Calipari hopes that her work intervening in the neurological aspects of the disease will reduce its severity and will help improve how to “define treatment in various populations [of patients].”     

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute on Drug Abuse, The Journal of Neuroscience, YouTube

About the Author
You May Also Like
FEB 12, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
FEB 12, 2020
Does Traditional Chinese Medicine Work Against Coronavirus?
Over 45,000 cases of Wuhan Coronavirus have been reported globally, alongside over 1,100 deaths. Although over 4,700 peo ...
FEB 26, 2020
Neuroscience
FEB 26, 2020
Immunotherapy Could Be Used to Treat Traumatic Brain Injury
Video:  Further explaination of microglia and their various functions.  Traumatic Brain Injuries are physical ...
MAR 06, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
MAR 06, 2020
Scorpion-derived Proteins Deliver Arthritis Treatment
New research published in the journal Science Translational Medicine shows that that a scorpion-derived proteins could s ...
MAR 19, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
MAR 19, 2020
Could a 1949 Malaria Drug Treat COVID-19?
In the race to halt the current coronavirus pandemic, scientists, health experts and even Elon Musk are considering chlo ...
APR 21, 2020
Immunology
APR 21, 2020
A Nasal Vaccine Against Tau Tangles
  One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the accumulation of “tau tangles”. Tau is a ...
MAY 16, 2020
Neuroscience
MAY 16, 2020
Stem Cell Method (Parkinson's) Could Avoid Transplant Rejection
Researchers at McLean Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have tested a stem cell treatment method that av ...
Loading Comments...