Western University of Health Sciences recently received a

substantial grant from the National Institutes of Health to support a

three-year study on cocaine addiction and treatment.

Dr. Kabir Lutfy, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences

at Western University of Health Sciences, received the $510,000 grant

from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, an NIH agency. The NIH is an

agency within the Department of Health and Human Services and serves as

the principal biomedical research arm of the federal government.

Dr. Lutfy’s work involves the use of laboratory animals (mice and

rats) that have been deliberately addicted to cocaine, and the use of

treatment agents designed to prevent or curb cocaine addiction.

Dr. Lutfy has previously discovered that there is a normally-occurring

substance in the brain which, if administered to an animal prior to

cocaine administration, prevents the effect of the cocaine in the

animal. This preventive substance, a peptide known as orphanin FQ, can

be prepared synthetically in the laboratory; it is this synthetic

material that is used in the study.

Using his NIH grant, Dr. Lutfy will now study whether repeated

cocaine use (in test animals) will alter the amount of orphanin FQ

produced in the brain. He will also investigate the particular receptor

sites in the brain where this preventive substance (orphanin FQ) actually

works.

Dr. Max Ray, dean of Western University of Health Science’s College

of Pharmacy, said Dr. Lutfy’s work will lead to better understanding of

cocaine addiction in humans and how it can be treated or prevented.

“”We are very pleased that NIH has recognized the abilities of one of

our faculty members and has agreed to support his work,”” Ray said.