| | Advanced Search

 

John Perilli: Battle Heats Up to Succeed Fox in House District 4—Keep an eye on this one...

Newport Goes Daffy with Weeklong Daffodil Celebration—Over 250,000 blooming daffodils on display

B’s Dominate Wings, Take Game 3—shut out Detroit 3-0 to take 2-1 series…

Organize + Energize: 4 Ways Getting Organized Will Save You Money—Stop wasting time and money

Dear John: Single Dad - How Do I Handle Daughter’s Adolescence?—How to support your daughter through puberty

State Report: Marijuana Tax + Bill Targets Prostitutes and Pimps—Plus increased sentences for gang crimes

John Rooke - Thinking Out Loud—JR's column on the sports stories and personalities…

RI Beauty Insider: Pedi Nation – Get the Best Pedicure Ever—A guide to finding a pristine pedi place

Fit for Life: Fail to Plan? Plan to Fail—Plan and prioritize, and you will prevail

Arthur Schaper: Grand Theft Auto Cicilline—MINDSETTER Arthur Schaper examine's Cicilline's role in Prov's…

 
 

URI Pharmacy Professor Awarded $1.65 Mil Grant To Study Alcoholism

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

 

Fatemeh Akhlaghi, pharmacy professor at the University of Rhode Island, has been awarded a grant by the National Institutes of Health to study a new treatment for alcoholism.

The $1.65 Million grant was awarded to the professor of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences, and formalizes a partnership with Dr. Lorenzo Leggio, chief of Section on Clinical Psychoneuroendocrinology and Neuropsychopharmacology at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse; and Pfizer, the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical company.

Akhlaghi’s group was one of only nine teams in the United States to win such an award from the National Institutes of Health. This collaborative pilot initiative, called Discovering New Therapeutic Uses for Existing Molecules , is led by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and funded by the NIH Common Fund. The two scientists are working with an undisclosed compound provided by Pfizer, which has been used to treat Type II diabetes.

A central target of their research is ghrelin, an aminoacid peptide that stimulates appetite and food intake. In those with alcoholism, higher ghrelin concentrations are associated with higher alcohol craving and consumption, according to the researchers.

An oral medication that targets the activity of ghrelin and can pass through the blood-brain barrier holds promise for treatment, according to their grant proposal.

“If we can stop food cravings, then maybe we can stop alcohol cravings. Simply put, URI is helping NIH develop a new treatment for alcoholism,” said Akhlaghi, whose previous work has focused on diabetes and anti-rejection drugs taken by transplant patients. Her expertise is in the area of drug development.

The researchers are examining whether a ghrelin receptor inhibitor safely reduces alcohol dependence. The work follows promising human and animal tests, which showed ghrelin blocking activity.

Akhlaghi has been working with Leggio since he was a researcher at Brown University, Providence. In 2012, the two collaborated on the grant application under the NIH’s drug repurposing program, which awarded a total of $12.7 nationally in 2013.

The two are following up on Leggio’s study at Brown, during which he infused study subjects with ghrelin. In each case, alcohol craving went up.

“I am looking at timing, the course of the drug in the body, the drug concentration and how all of those relate to a drug’s effectiveness,” Akhlaghi said. “Right now, we don’t know anything about a suitable drug regimen for this compound, so we need to measure concentration and effect. We need to know how long the drug must stay in the body to do its job.”

Now she is analyzing samples from Leggio’s NIH lab to look at concentration and effectiveness markers.

The research team is first looking at the safety of this drug combined with alcohol. The next potential step will be to look at early signals of efficacy, including using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to determine whether the craving signal in the brain is dampened if ghrelin is inhibited.

“In a sense," said Akhlaghi. "We are saying, if we can change your brain, we can change your life."


Related Slideshow:
Check Out The Grades: Rhode Island Hospitals Report Card

A recent survey released by The Leapfrog Group assigns a Hospital Safety Score, using the report card system of A to F to each of the hospitals in Rhode Island. These grades are based on expert analysis of injuries, infections and errors that cause harm or death during a hospital stay.

Let's see how each of Rhode Island's hospitals were graded from highest to lowest:

Prev Next

South County Hospital

Wakefield, RI

 

Fall 2013 Grade: A

Spring 2013 Grade: A

Prev Next

Kent County Memorial Hospital

Warwick, RI

 

Fall 2013 Grade: B

Spring 2013 Grade: C

Prev Next

Memorial Hospital of RI

Pawtucket, RI

 

Fall 2013 Grade: B

Spring 2013 Grade: Not Graded*

 

*Not graded due to lack of publicly available data

Prev Next

Miriam Hospital

Providence, RI

 

Fall 2013 Grade: B

Spring 2013 Grade: B

Prev Next

Newport Hospital

Newport, RI

 

Fall 2013 Grade: C

Spring 2013 Grade: B

Prev Next

Rhode Island Hospital

Providence, RI

 

Fall 2013 Grade: C

Spring 2013 Grade: C

Prev Next

Roger Williams Medical Center

Providence, RI

 

Fall 2013 Grade: C

Spring 2013 Grade: C

Prev Next

St. Joseph Health Services of Rhode Island

Providence, RI

 

Fall 2013 Grade: C

Spring 2013 Grade: B

Prev Next

Landmark Medical Center

Woonsocket, RI

 

Fall 2013 Grade: Not Graded*

Spring 2013 Grade: Not Graded*

 

*Not graded due to lack of publicly available data

Prev Next

Women & Infants Hospital of RI

Providence, RI

 

Fall 2013 Grade: Not Graded*

Spring 2013 Grade: Not Graded*

 

*Not graded due to lack of publicly available data

Prev Next

Westerly Hospital

Westerly, RI

 

Fall 2013 Grade: Not Graded*

Spring 2013 Grade: Not Graded*

 

*Not graded due to lack of publicly available data

 
 

Related Articles

 

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.




Write your comment...

You must be logged in to post comments.