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Brain Research Foundation (BRF) awards two grants to help identify new treatments to reduce opioid relapse

Brain Research Foundation (BRF) awards two grants to help identify new treatments to reduce opioid relapse

PR Newswire

CHICAGO, Aug. 28, 2018

CHICAGO, Aug. 28, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Brain Research Foundation (BRF) today announced it has issued two grants that will focus on new breakthroughs to help slow the frighteningly high rate of relapse within the opioid epidemic. The funding of these grants was made possible by Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which has been on the frontlines of the opioid crisis with the scientific and health communities and was determined to help launch this groundbreaking initiative.

"Historically, our approach to brain research has been to focus on basic research, but with the help of our Opioid Advisory Committee (OAC), we identified a more impactful approach of translational research to have an immediate effect on this epidemic," said Terre A. Constantine, Ph.D., executive director and chief executive officer of BRF. "This approach to opioid relapse therapies positions our resources closer to the end of the addiction cycle which allows us to investigate existing therapies that have not been used in the past."

BRF received numerous compelling proposals from the neuroscience research community and with the assistance of the OAC, awarded funding to two projects.  Amanda L. Persons, Ph.D. and her research team at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago received a grant to research how the drug mirtazapine, typically used to treat depression, affects a specific brain protein pivotal to opioid relapse. Success with an existing drug that has already cleared regulatory hurdles for human safety would greatly shorten the timeline to treatment.

The Waszczak Lab at Northeastern University in Boston, led by Barbara L. Waszczak, Ph.D., was awarded funding to investigate a new intranasal delivery method it developed for a protein that research indicates is beneficial in the treatment of opioid addiction.  Previously, surgery was required to introduce higher levels of the protein into the human brain. If successful, this non-invasive delivery approach will be positioned to pursue major funding with a near-term goal of clinical trials.

Addiction has always been a research area that BRF has funded since its inception more than 60years ago. The unprecedented progression of the opioid health crisis compelled the Foundation to take a more urgent approach in adding more resources. As a result, BRF formed the OAC to help direct its research approach by recruiting experts in the field who encouraged the Foundation to fund existing therapies not previously tested for opioid addiction.

"Our hope is that these two grants, made possible through the generous commitment of our OAC and BCBSA, represent the start of promising approaches to attack the monumental challenge of relapse," Dr. Constantine added. "We are privileged to work with so many distinguished researchers and humbled by their deep commitment to this health issue. We received many worthy proposals that were only limited by resources."

BRF plans to expand its initiative into combatting opioid relapse by raising funds for additional research, with the hopes of slowing the frighteningly high rate of relapse to bring hope to individuals and their loved ones who are facing one of the most dangerous health crises the U.S. has ever faced.

About Brain Research Foundation
Brain Research Foundation supports neuroscience research that leads to advanced understanding of brain function in children and adults. This Foundation is committed to advance discoveries that will lead to novel treatments and prevention of all neurological diseases.  We deliver this commitment through research grant programs - which provide initial funding for innovative research projects – and educational programs for researchers and the general public. 


Deborah Schneider



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Last Updated: 28-Aug-2018