SRI International has been awarded a five-year contract valued up to $9.75 million from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to conduct preclinical safety studies of potential new medications to treat substance abuse. SRI researchers will study potential drug-drug interactions between new treatment therapies and common drugs of abuse to assess potential adverse reactions.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), an estimated 22.5 million Americans aged 12 or older—or 8.7 percent of the population—had used an illicit drug or abused a psychotherapeutic medication (such as a pain reliever, stimulant, or tranquilizer) in the past month at the time of a survey in 2011.
"It is important to know early on in the drug development process whether there is potential for a novel drug, when taken in concert with a drug of abuse such as cocaine or morphine, to cause side effects from overdosing, including seizures or other problems," said Howard Stock, Ph.D., senior toxicologist at SRI Biosciences and principal investigator of the project. "We hope that our research will improve people's lives and help those who are suffering from drug addiction."
As part of SRI's contract, NIDA will first identify compounds that may be potential therapeutics. Then SRI researchers will work with NIDA to design and execute preclinical studies to assess the safety of these compounds, both individually and in combination with known drugs of abuse. In the process, SRI researchers will test compounds at various stages of drug development with the goal of advancing promising discoveries into clinical trials.
"SRI currently performs preclinical drug development under contracts with several other NIH institutes," said Jon Mirsalis, Ph.D., D.A.B.T., managing director of SRI's Biosciences Division. "Applying our expertise to the problems of drug abuse treatment will support NIDA's important mission and SRI's commitment to address global health issues."