The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has awarded researchers at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy a $3.4 million grant to study the effects of kratom.
This five-year grant is a follow-up to a two-year, $3.5 million NIDA grant awarded to the college back in December 2018. The first NIDA-funded study proposed examinations on kratom’s alkaloids individually. Specifically looking at how the alkaloids effect the brain, as well as metabolism’s effect on the alkaloids.
However, individual kratom alkaloids do not affect the brain nor are they metabolized the same way as all the parts together.
Hence, the new grant evaluates these alkaloids together to study kratom’s effect as a whole.
“We want to find out why we are seeing more harm in the western world when we don’t see it in Southeast Asia,” said the study’s principal investigator, Chris McCurdy
For the first time, UF scientists will be able to compare the effects of kratom in its traditional form — as a tea made from fresh leaves — versus the way westerners consume it — as dried leaves.
Principal investigators on the study include:
- Chris McCurdy, Ph.D., professor of medicinal chemistry
- Lance McMahon, Ph.D., professor and chair of pharmacodynamics
- and the late Bonnie Avery, Ph.D., a clinical professor of pharmaceutics.
Avery passed away in March, just one month before the grant was funded. Most researchers only analyze kratom for mitragynine, its most abundant alkaloid. However, Avery’s expertise led to the identification and quantification of 10 alkaloids (out of a possible 40).
“Bonnie Avery was a critical part of this award, as she would have led the analysis of the alkaloids,” said Maureen Keller-Wood, Ph.D., UF Associate Dean for Research. “She would be pleased that this work will continue.”
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