School of Medicine researchers explore molecular mechanisms of cocaine addiction

Researchers at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Medicine have been awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health for research that could lead to improved treatment and prevention of cocaine addiction. Researchers in the lab of Xiang-Ping Chu, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of Basic Medical Science at the School of Medicine, will use the grant to conduct a research project titled “Targeting acid-sensing ion channel 1a (ASIC1a) to prevent drug addiction.” The grant was awarded through the NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“The project will provide evidence and insights into a newly discovered molecular activity within the brain during the use of cocaine that leads to the addition,” Dr. Chu said. “Data from this project will provide evidence and insights for a new molecular mechanism underlying drug addiction, and will ultimately contribute to the development of novel pharmacotherapies for the treatment of various mental illnesses stemming from substance abuse.”

Dr. Chu joined the School of Medicine faculty in 2008 in the Department of Basic Medical Science and has a secondary appointment in the Department of Anesthesiology. His research programs have also been supported by the American Heart Association and the University of Missouri Research Board.

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