A recent PhD study supported by Australian Rotary Health (ARH) will aim to prevent and break the cycle of methamphetamine use by investigating a cell type associated with decision making in the brain.

Anna Horton from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health was awarded an Ian Scott PhD Scholarship from ARH this year to investigate a potential novel target for the treatment of methamphetamine addiction.

Methamphetamine addiction is a chronic relapsing disorder, with up to 61% of users relapsing within 1 year of treatment.

“Relapse is the major hurdle to successful treatment of meth addiction as current interventions do not appear to be long-lasting with no available pharmacotherapies on the market,” Anna said.

In her project, Anna and her team plan to manipulate parts of the brain responsible for decision making and cognitive processing and look at the effects on drug taking behaviour.

“There is a certain cell type within these parts of the brain that has not yet been investigated for its role in addiction,” Anna said.

“I want to see if we activate and inactivate these cells and look at the effect of methamphetamine seeking and relapse behaviour in rodents.”

If successful, this project will provide a potential new therapeutic target for the treatment of methamphetamine addiction and relapse.

“Many users with serious addictions wish to discontinue their drug use, however find it extremely difficult due to the highly addictive nature of methamphetamine.”

“Discovering new therapeutic targets that can help prevent relapse and break the cycle of drug use will have a serious impact on both users and families affected.”

We wish Anna all the best with her research.


Media contact: Jessica Cooper – (02) 8837 1900 or jessica@arh.org.au