2002 Medicinal Chemistry Division Award address: monoamine transporters and opioid receptors. Targets for addiction therapy
In 2001, an estimated 15.9 million Americans aged 12 or older were current illicit drug users.1 This estimate represents 7.1% of the population aged 12 years or older.1 The percentage of the population using illicit drugs increased from 6.3% in 1999 and 2000 to 7.1% in 2001.1 Among youths 12-17 years of age, 10.8% were current illicit drug users, which is higher than the rate observed in 2000 (9.7%). An estimated 1.2 million
Americans are current users of cocaine, and 0.1% of the population aged 12 and older are current users of heroin.1 In addition, approximately 957 000 persons aged 12 and older had used oxycontin nonmedically at
least once in their lifetime.1 These facts, together with the expanding social costs of increased street violence and drug-abuse-related deaths, the proliferation of children and adolescents working in the drug abuse
trade, the suffering caused to innocent victims of crime, and the intravenous injection of the drug, which increases the risk of AIDS, speak to the need for solutions to this public health problem. It is now recognized that cocaine and heroin addictions are diseases of the brain with specific neurobiological characteristics resembling those of many other diseases.2,3 Thus, very similar to other diseases, the development of pharmacotherapies effective in treating cocaine and opiate addictions is one way of addressing this health problem. The initial event that leads to addiction is the interaction of a drug of abuse at a specific site (receptor) on a target protein. In this perspective, I present our research directed
toward monoamine transporters and opioid receptors as targets for the development of such pharmacotherapies.