The Indiana University School of Medicine has received a $12.3 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for a two-stage research project to study the use of tezampanel to treat opioid withdrawal syndrome, as well as other addictions and mental illnesses.
Proniras Corp., a Seattle-based biotechnology company, is a partner on the project.
Research in the first stage, a two-year, $2 million endeavor, will focus on testing the utility of tezampanel in the context of preclinical models of opioid withdrawal and in combination with opioid and benzodiazepine drugs commonly associated with addiction and lethal overdoses. If preclinical work shows acceptable margins of safety and efficacy, the project will advance to the second, $10 million stage. Phase 2, slated for 3 years, tezampanel will be administered to people with opioid addiction in a controlled clinical trial.
“This drug has very interesting activity in the glutamate neurotransmitter system of the brain, which operates as a sort of common currency of information processing that has gone wrong in both addiction and mental illness,” R. Andrew Chambers, MD, addiction psychiatrist and neuroscientist in the IU School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry, said in a news release announcing the project.
A consortium that includes clinician scientists in addiction psychiatry at the University of New Mexico, University of Cincinnati and Yale University will expand testing of the medication under different clinical conditions.