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Scripps Florida is Awarded Grant to Create National Anti-Addiction Network

Initiative Will Focus on Finding Cures for Tobacco Abuse, Nicotine Addiction

JUPITER, FL, September 14, 2011 – The Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute has received a multistage cooperative grant to create a national public-private network that will work to combat the nation’s lingering addiction to tobacco.

The new National Institutes of Health (NIH) program will eventually become a broad collaborative effort between academia, the pharmaceutical industry, and charitable organizations to deliver new anti-smoking medicines—in essence the first large-scale federally sponsored tobacco addiction research and drug development center in the United States.

Scripps Florida was awarded $125,000 to complete the first stage of the multistage cooperative NIH grant. The first stage is a planning stage, which kicks off this month. The leadership team is well into developing several projects that could influence its chances of next year being chosen as the national center’s managing partner.

“We have a number of important objectives for the coming year, including a major international scientific symposium with tobacco addiction experts from academia, the Food and Drug Administration, the NIH, and the pharmaceutical industry,” said Patrick R. Griffin, chairman of the Department of Molecular Therapeutics and director of the Translational Research Institute at Scripps Florida, and program director of the new project.

Griffin will collaborate with Scripps Florida Associate Professor Paul J. Kenny, a noted addiction expert and the grant’s principal investigator, to host this symposium and to create a Web portal that will include a vast range of tobacco addiction data—basically, everything there is to know scientifically about the issue will be available on the site. This all-encompassing resource will be available to public, providing information about the addiction, which kills approximately 440,000 Americans each year, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and costs the nation $160 billion annually. One in every five American deaths is the direct result of smoking.

Griffin and Kenny will also conduct an extensive review of the science of tobacco addiction, which will summarize the data from the new website, outcomes from the symposium, and other findings by the close of the planning year.

“We intend this review to be the most focused and comprehensive on tobacco addiction to date,” Griffin said.

Currently, there are six active drug discovery research programs at Scripps Florida, all supported by the NIH, aimed at developing novel compounds with the potential to help smokers quit.

In January of this year, for example, Kenny identified a novel pathway in the brain that regulates an individual’s vulnerability to the addictive properties of nicotine. Kenny’s laboratory is already working on research in collaboration with scientists at the University of Pennsylvania to develop new drugs that could decrease the addictive properties of nicotine.

The Griffin lab has recently developed novel modulators of the nuclear receptor PPARG, a target currently being investigated in clinical trials for smoking cessation. “Our compounds may offer a significant advantage in terms exposure to the target in the brain, as well as a much-improved side effect profile compared with the drug currently being evaluated in the clinic,” noted Griffin.

About The Scripps Research Institute

The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is one of the world's largest independent, not-for-profit organizations focusing on research in the biomedical sciences. TSRI is internationally recognized for its contributions to science and health, including its role in laying the foundation for new treatments for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, and other diseases. An institution that evolved from the Scripps Metabolic Clinic founded by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps in 1924, the institute now employs more than 2,500 people on its campuses in La Jolla, CA, and Jupiter, FL, where its renowned scientists—including two Nobel laureates and 20 members of the National Academies of Science, Engineering or Medicine—work toward their next discoveries. The institute's graduate program, which awards PhD degrees in biology and chemistry, ranks among the top ten of its kind in the nation. In October 2016, TSRI announced a strategic affiliation with the California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr), representing a renewed commitment to the discovery and development of new medicines to address unmet medical needs. For more information, see www.scripps.edu.

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