PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — A Brown University professor is among the first in the country to win a federal research grant funded by national economic stimulus efforts.
Robert Miranda Jr., assistant professor (research) with the Brown University Center for Alcohol and Addition Studies, will use the funds in an unusual study that may help reduce marijuana addiction among teens by testing a novel medication.
“There are very few medication studies done for adolescent substance abuse,” Miranda said.
Miranda has been awarded $560,515 for the first year of a two-year proposal through the National Institutes of Health and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The study will look at the drug topiramate to see if it helps reduce marijuana addiction among high-school students. Topiramate has been shown previously to help reduce alcohol use.
Funding for Miranda’s study, specifically through the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an NIH agency, will create or help create three new full-time positions. This funding will also help save five full-time jobs, including a computer programmer and project assessment coordinator. Some of those positions would have been changed to part-time status. Miranda himself will be able to continue this program of research under the grant.
Topiramate, which has also been used to treat migraines and epilepsy, is thought to be able to blunt dopamine release in the brain. Dopamine is released during substance abuse and subsequently contributes to its rewarding effects. That phenomenon is thought to lead to the addictive quality of certain drugs, such as marijuana.
Research indicates that marijuana use is a factor for two-thirds of all substance abuse treatment center admissions among teenagers, Miranda said.
The study will begin in mid-June at the Brown Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies. Miranda expects to enroll about 60 adolescent males and females, recruited through the community and local schools.
The study will focus on whether the drug is well tolerated and effective and whether a broader, larger-scale clinical trial and longer-term follow-ups are warranted.