University of Arizona and Oklahoma State University Announce Transformative Addiction Research Partnership

Robert C. Robbins, MDpresident of the University of Arizona, and Kayse Shrum, DOPresident of Oklahoma State University, today announced that academic medical centers at both institutions have joined forces to address the opioid crisis and chronic pain through research, treatment and education.

The partnership will share the institutional resources of three research centers – the University of Arizona Comprehensive Health Sciences Center for Pain and Addiction (CPAC), the Center of Excellence in Addiction Studies ( CEAS) funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at UArizona Health Sciences, and the National Center for Wellness & Recovery (NCWR) at the OSU Center for Health Sciences – to advance pain and addiction research and accelerate positive health outcomes in Arizona, Oklahoma and across the country.

The NCWR has access to approximately 18,000 new research molecules from Purdue Pharma designed to target neural mechanisms associated with chronic pain and addiction. Additionally, there are 40,000 to 50,000 human biological samples from consenting patients enrolled in more than 20 Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials involving opioids and non-opioids. Recently, NCWR began collecting additional biological samples from patients with addictions or recovering and undergoing treatment at NCWR treatment centers in Oklahoma. These unique assets, collected over more than two decades, enable research into the risk factors, causes and potential treatments for addiction and chronic pain.

CPAC is comprised of a group of world-class scientists with expertise in the overlap between the neurobiology of chronic pain and addiction, whose work will be enhanced by the availability of new chemical materials from the NCWR. CEAS will provide expertise in gene targeting, use of neuroanalytical methods, big data analysis and advanced behavioral assessment of these drug-like substances, providing the critical data that can lead to the advancement of clinical trials. . Additionally, CPAC and CEAS are committed to training paraprofessionals in substance use disorders for the workforce and educating students, as well as creating a South Region Substance Abuse Network -west with collaborations with university researchers in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma.

“The primary beneficiaries of this partnership will be millions of people suffering from pain or at risk of addiction and their families. Given the dire need to address the opioid crisis, this is a strategic priority,” Dr. Robbins said. “Funding from the strategic plan has helped support the Comprehensive Pain and Addiction Center. In addition, the New Economy Initiative [funds] from the State Legislature and the Governor have been used to develop the center and will be key in strengthening this OSU partnership. It’s one of those rare win-win situations. We believe that by tackling chronic pain and opioid use disorder together, the University of Arizona and OSU will lead us to the discovery of new, non-addictive treatments for sufferers. of chronic pain while discovering new ways to treat substance use disorder.

The goals of the three research centers are aligned with the Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) initiative of the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the National Institutes of Health. They focus on tackling the opioid crisis, improving chronic pain while decreasing opioid use, finding alternatives to opioids for the treatment of acute and chronic pain, promoting recovery and relapse prevention of opioid use disorder, as well as the development of fast-acting drugs. for opioid overdoses through advancements in chemistry, biology, therapies, clinical trials and education.

“This partnership has the potential to significantly advance the fields of pain and addiction research nationwide,” said Michael D. Dake, MD, senior vice president of Arizona University of Health Sciences. “Our faculty has decades of experience and expertise in researching the mechanisms of pain and addiction, but we recognize the need for further research to help those affected by chronic pain and related disorders. to substance use. »

In addition to their general populations, Arizona and Oklahoma are home to indigenous populations affected by substance abuse. Both universities share a common commitment to addressing the impact of substance use disorders and chronic pain in these populations.

“The partnership will accelerate our ability to discover new drugs, devices and therapies to help those who suffer from substance use disorders and chronic pain,” said Todd Vanderah, PhD, director of the UArizona Health Sciences Comprehensive Pain and Addiction Center and professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology at the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson. “This relationship will leverage each institution’s research strengths, dedication to clinical care and passion for change.

The partnership involves the sharing of research assets and knowledge, as well as preclinical and clinical expertise gleaned from years of research and treatment by scientists and clinicians at the two academic medical centers.

CPAC and CEAS at Arizona Health Sciences University bring together world-class laboratory space as well as preclinical and clinical expertise that can promote the development of new non-opioid therapies based on existing chemical entities of the NCWR as well as new chemistry and biology that can be conducted jointly by the three groups.

“This partnership provides an unprecedented opportunity to address the unmet medical need for chronic pain that affects approximately 1 in 3 Americans while decreasing opioid use and the associated risks of addiction and death from overdose,” said Frank Porreca, PhD, Cosden Professor of Pain and Addiction Studies in the Department of Pharmacology at the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson and Principal Investigator of the Center of Excellence Grant for Addiction Studies. “The partnership will also provide unique educational opportunities for youth in Arizona and Oklahoma that will enhance innovative chronic pain and addiction research.”

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