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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 18, 2005

Grant To Fund Research On Natural Compounds For Drug Dependence

A University of Iowa College of Pharmacy researcher has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to study and develop a potential new treatment for substance abuse.

Thomas Prisinzano, Ph.D., assistant professor in the college's Division of Medicinal and Natural Products Chemistry, received the five-year, $1.67 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In his research, Prisinzano will take a natural compound derived from plants and, using medicinal chemistry, convert it into a product that could be used as a pain reliever or a treatment for methamphetamine or cocaine dependence, for example.

The natural compound, salvinorin A, targets opioid receptors at the same place in the brain where morphine and other opiates act. Research has shown that opioid receptors are involved in some of the abuse-related effects of drugs. Understanding how salvinorin A interacts with opioid receptors will allow new medications to be developed to treat drug abuse and pain.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, (319) 335-8032,