There are an estimated 11.7 million methamphetamine (MA) abusers in the United States and epidemics of MA addiction are occurring worldwide. In our human laboratory and outpatient clinical trials we use innovative methods to quantify the severity of MA addiction and test biomarkers that may predict response to therapy or risk of relapse. One potential biomarker of addiction is the quantity of abused drug intake. Qualitative urinalysis is used in clinical trials and during treatment but provides only a binary outcome measure of abuse. Using non-pharmacologic doses of deuterium labeled l-MA we have developed a continuous quantitative measure to estimate the bioavailable amount of MA addicts ingest. Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor is a neurotrophin that encourages growth and differentiation of new neurons and synapses. Low BDNF levels are seen in many addictive disorders and BDNF is elevated in recovering MA addicts, suggesting BDNF may be a marker of MA addiction. We are investigating the effects of controlled doses of MA on BDNF levels and gene regulation and measuring BDNF in our clinical trials. We believe both patients and clinical researches will benefit from the addition of new, objective and quantifiable outcome measures that reflect disease severity and recovery from addiction.
Keywords: Biomarker, methamphetamine, addiction, Drug Metabolism, Pathogenic Process, BDNF, Neurotrophic Factor
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