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Fund a Meth Lab, Help Addiction Research

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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A Princeton lab’s doing something interesting — trying to figure out where amphetamines collect in the brain, to really understand them, in a helpful sort of way that gets at the problem of addiction.

Ethan Perlstein is using a crowdfunding model to raise money for his lab’s initiative, unconventional but necessary in a system that doesn’t have deep pockets for addiction research.

From his site:

Everyday millions of people take amphetamines, and millions more are touched by brain diseases and addiction. Yet most psychoactive drugs used today, whether legal or illegal, therapeutic or addictive, are just tweaked versions of drugs discovered decades ago. But that means we know how these drugs actually work, right? Short answer: no, not really.

For example, we know that amphetamines such as methamphetamine (“crystal meth”) interact with many different parts of a brain cell, yet we’re far from full, useful knowledge. Specifically, we need to know all of a drug’s interactions plus all the cascading effects of these interactions on how brain cells function. Without complete, basic understanding, scientists won’t be able to create more effective, personalized treatments for brain diseases and addictions.

I’m encouraged by the idea, a cool one, in the hopes that we get closer to cellular answers as they relate to those who struggle with addiction. Neater still, the lab’s planning on sharing their data and answers with the public along the way via a weekly video and blog. This is new for science. As an advocate of an open lab model and addiction research, I’m thrilled to support it. The funding time frame is nearing its last days, so donate to help us gain knowledge on a still-mysterious drug that could go far to help the real people who need it.

Here’s a video of the lab’s proposal:

Crowdsourcing Discovery from Crowdsourcing Discovery on Vimeo.

Cassie Rodenberg About the Author: I write on culture, poverty, addiction, and mental illness: I explore things we like to ignore. I also teach public school in New York City's South Bronx. Follow on Twitter @cassierodenberg.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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