The Wenthur laboratory is currently exploring how the immune system can alter the function of brain reward systems, as a means to develop new therapeutics for addiction and associated psychiatric illnesses. Within this overall effort, there are four interconnected projects crafted to support rapid translation of these findings and improve human health:

  1. Development of novel pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic tools to block the effects of abused synthetic and naturally-derived drugs, such as opiates, stimulants, and cannabinoids.
    image showing how bioconjugate vaccines and monocolonal antibidies can block the effects of abused synthetic and naturally-derived drugs
  2. Using antibody-mediated techniques to understand how multiple compounds and neurochemical systems interact to support maladaptive learning during chronic stress in mammalian systems, including long-term pain and associated drug use.
    image showing how antibody-mediated techniques help us understand how different compounds and neurochemical systems interact to during chronic stress in mammals, leading to maladaptive learning

  3. Identifying immune-mediated biomarkers of ongoing drug abuse in humans, especially prescription opioids, and to understand how these alterations in immune function affect the efficacy of these abused drugs.
    image showing how identification of immune-mediated biomarkers of long-term drug abuse in humans as a means of understanding how these drugs affect the function of the immune system

  4. Assessing the ethical, practical, and therapeutic concerns of patients, providers, and payers in regard to the implementation of novel, adjunctive medication- and behaviorally-based addiction treatment across treatment populations.