NIDA pushes for translational solutions to opioid crisis

NIH’s NIDA hopes changing attitutes to addiction will create fertile ground for its translational initiatives

One outcome of the flood of attention to the opioid crisis is that it is starting to sway the perception of addiction towards the concept it is a disease, suffered by patients, rather than a behavior, exhibited by individuals who make choices. NIH’s NIDA sees that as extra motivation to push translational science, and has set a goal to discover 15 new drug targets over a year.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is launching the Step Up for Substance Use Disorders initiative, the latest of a series of mechanisms it has applied to translate addiction research.

The initiative aims to de-risk academic projects and move them towards clinical development in a step-by-step fashion by providing incremental funding for key experiments that would either advance or kill the programs.

NIDA’s focus on translation is a deviation from the standard NIH model, but director Nora Volkow is breaking from the mold because translation is where government funding is needed the most.

“Traditionally, NIH funds

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