Author Archive

Our work with the Roth and Kash Labs characterizing a novel DREADD (Designer Receptor Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs) based on the kappa opioid receptor was published in Neuron this week. This research was featured on the UNC School of Medicine Vital Signs webpage and is gathering national and international attention. See the links below for press coverage.

UNC School of Medicine: A BRAIN Initiative first: new tool can switch behavior ‘on’ and ‘off’

National Institutes of Health: Souped-up remote control switches behaviors on-and-off in mice

In the United States: Obama’s BRAIN Initiative yields first study results

BRAIN Initiative: Scientists Control Mouse Behavior With On-Off Switch

In the United Kingdom: Obama’s remote control mouse: First results of Presidential plan to revolutionise neuroscience released

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Our work over the past three years investigating how the OPRM1-A118G single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) affects alcohol and opioid reward in a humanized mouse model (h/mOPRM1-A118G) is now in press. In collaboration with Markus Heilig (NIAAA) and Annika Thorsell (University of Linköping), our data on how this SNP affects alcohol-related behaviors in mice appears in Biological Psychiatry; and in collaboration with Markus Heilig and Bryan Roth (UNC), our data on μ-opioid receptor (MOR) reserve differences in 118AA and 118GG mice in Neuropsychopharmacology (see Publications page). Cudos, as always, to Elliott Robinson for bringing this exciting story to fruition. Thanks also to Eyal Vardy and Kate White (alumni of the Roth Lab), Vladimir Chefer (NIDA), and alumni of the Malanga Lab (Jeff DiBerto, Michael Krouse, Eric Fish, and Meng Chen) for what has been a highly successful, multi-investigator team effort!

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One example of functional selectivity demonstrated by Eli Wallach in his portrayal of Tuco in Sergio Leone’s classic western, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, can be found here. Pay particular attention from 2:38 (“That’s enough”) to 3:24 (“Cartridges”).

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The second paper from our lab on the effects of the antiepileptic drug, levetiracetam (Keppra), on alcohol-related behaviors in C57BL/6J mice has been accepted for publication in Behavioural Pharmacology. Eric Fish (formerly of the Malanga Lab, now in the Sulik Lab) and Abi Agoglia (Hodge Lab) were first and second authors. Michael Krouse (formerly of the Malanga Lab, now a medical student at VCU), Grant Muller (Malanga Lab), and Elliott Robinson (Malanga Lab) also contributed. This work, together with Elliott’s paper earlier this year in Neuropsychopharmacology, suggests that levetiracetam may have different effects on different individual patterns of alcohol drinking; and may have clinical utility in some patients with alcohol abuse disorders. Congratulations especially to Abi Agoglia on her (record-breaking) second publication from a single lab rotation!

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Our work on changes in dopaminergic, glutamatergic, and cholinergic behavioral pharmacology in Fmr1-null mice has been accepted for publication in PLoS ONE. Eric Fish (formerly of the Malanga Lab, now in the Sulik Lab) and Michael Krouse (formerly of the Malanga Lab, now a medical student at VCU) were first and second authors, respectively. Sierra Stringfield (Robinson Lab), Jeff DiBerto (Malanga Lab), and Elliott Robinson (Malanga Lab) also contributed. This work was made possible by funding from Autism Speaks.

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Elliott presented his data on the effects of the μ-opioid receptor (OPRM1) A118G polymorphism on alcohol- and opioid-related behaviors at the 2013 annual RSA meeting, June 22-26 in Orlando, FL. Check out Elliott’s poster here (and look for these findings in press in the near future).

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Our work on the divergent effects of the atypical anticonvulsant, levetiracetam (Keppra®), on alcohol and cocaine-related behaviors appeared as an advance online publication in the June 2013 issue of Neuropsychopharmacology. This work was the result of a collaboration between the Malanga and Hodge Laboratories in the UNC Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies. Elliott Robinson (Malanga Lab), a graduate student in the UNC Neurobiology Curriculum and Medical Scientist Training Program, and Meng Chen, a postdoctoral researcher in the Malanga Lab, were first and second authors, respectively. Alice Stamatakis (Stuber Lab), Sara Faccidomo (Hodge Lab), Michael Krouse and Eric Fish (Malanga Lab) also contributed.

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C.J. gave a talk entitled “It’s Not Just for Drug Abuse Anymore: Investigating Mouse Models Relevant to Autism with ICSS” at the 2013 WCBR in Breckenridge, CO. Together with Andre Der-Avakian (UCSD), C.J. co-chaired the session, “Highs and Lows: Insights from the Intracranial Self-Stimulation Procedure about Normal and Abnormal Brain Reward Function in Neuropsychiatric Disorders.” Other presenters included Clayton Bauer (VCU) and Sandra Boye (Université de Montréal). The abstract for the session can be found here.

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In a news release this week, The Jackson Laboratory commented on our recent paper investigating dopaminergic circuitry in Angelman syndrome model mice published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation (122(12): 4544-54, 2012 Dec 3). A link to the news piece, including a podcast of an interview with the PI, can be found on the JAX Notes webpage, here.

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Our Laboratory Manager, Michael Krouse, presented a poster titled “Neuropharmacology of Motivation and Reward in a Mouse Model of Fragile X Syndrome” at the 2012 annual SfN meeting in New Orleans, LA.  A copy of Michael’s poster can be found here:  Fragile X – SfN 2012

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