Research Collaboration

Expediting access to specialized clinical and research capabilities

Drug Abuse Liability: Assess Your Therapeutic in a Nonhuman Primate Model

Assess the abuse liability of your therapeutic with an experienced addiction research program that uses a FDA-compliant socially-housed nonhuman primate model.

Research Opportunity

Prescription medication abuse and addiction is a serious problem in the United States. Over 18 million people misuse prescription drugs, creating a public health crisis1. Opioid abuse is particularly insidious; when patients’ prescriptions run out they self-medicate, leading to an increase in the use of illicit drugs. The severity of this crisis has highlighted the need to perform rigorous drug abuse liability assessments before prescription medications hit the market.

Drugs categorized as stimulants, depressants, analgesics and hallucinogens all act on the central nervous system, producing subjective and reinforcing effects. Stimulants, like amphetamine, increase the release of dopamine, which can produce euphoria and lead to abuse. Depressives—such as opioids for pain or benzodiazepines for anxiety—have side effects related to euphoria and abuse. Hallucinogens can alter a person’s visual and auditory perceptions.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center houses a well-established colony of Old World macaques (rhesus and cynomolgus monkeys) for ongoing behavioral studies. These experienced monkeys provide the most rigorous conditions for studying factors related to drug abuse. Unique to this laboratory, the cynomolgus monkeys used in intravenous drug abuse studies live in social groups. Individual housing is deemed more stressful, which could impact the abuse liability of a compound, compared to studying the same drug in socially housed animals.

  • The central nervous system of Old World macaques is similar to humans
  • Group-housed primates reflect social aspects of drug abuse
  • Drug effect assessment tools are the same as used in clinic