Dr. Pendyala's laboratory researches addiction to psychostimulants and their impact on the neurological system. Research funded by the NIH grant will focus on how extracellular vesicles impact cell function and deterioration in the brain of animal models due to inflammation from methamphetamine use. As part of the study, researchers are looking into the impact of the use of anti-inflammatory drugs during a period of methamphetamine abstinence on the rate of relapse, particularly in female models, which have been shown to experience higher rates of inflammation in the brain and quicker relapses.
"Methamphetamine is one of the most potent psychostimulants, so it has a huge potential to cause addiction," Dr. Pendyala said. "Adding another layer of complexity is the issue of gender differences with female animal models showing higher rates of addiction and relapse. This is serious and warrants intervention."
Dr. Pendyala described securing the grant as a step forward for researchers hoping to make an impact in their field. He hopes that, if he and his team can show a reduction in methamphetamine dependence in animal models with anti-inflammatory drug intervention, the data might be useful in humans.
"Regular methamphetamine users undergo surgical procedures, or present as patients who come into the emergency room experiencing an overdose, and in both instances might require anesthesia depending on the circumstances," Dr. Pendyala said. "Their drug use can impact the anesthesiologist's pain management plan in both instances."
Dr. Pendyala's research team includes Sowmya Yelamanchili, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the UNMC Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience at UNMC; and Rick Bevins, Ph.D., chair of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Psychology. The funding began Oct. 1, 2018. With a full five years of funding, Dr. Pendyala hopes to attract more graduate and postdoctoral trainees, as well as medical residents and fellows looking to pursue this kind of research.
On UNMC's campus, Dr. Pendyala's grant was one of the 176 UNMC projects funded by the NIH during the federal fiscal year, Oct. 1, 2017 to Sept. 30, 2018.
"We're hoping that this research can eventually impact patient care," said Steven Lisco, M.D., chairman of the department of anesthesiology at UNMC. "The support our department has received from the NIH demonstrates the relevance of this work and the quality of our researchers pursuing it."
For more information on Dr. Pendyala's grant, click here.
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