“Chris McCurdy was a pioneer in the area of kratom research 10 years ago,” McMahon said. “This NIDA grant shows interest in the potential of kratom-based medicines, as well as concerns over the potential misuse of kratom-related substances.”
With new special research funding for kratom made possible by this and other grants, the number of scientists on the research team and infrastructure to study kratom for pain have expanded. Quantities of samples that once took two to three months to generate can now be available in just one week.
The next stage of university of florida kratom research involves identifying the pharmacology of its chemicals. Bonnie Avery, Ph.D., a key co-investigator and clinical professor of pharmaceutics at the college, identifies kratom’s alkaloids through chromatographic science methods, to determine where they go in the body and how they are broken down into genetic metabolites.
After that, McMahon and Jay McLaughlin, Ph.D., an associate professor of pharmacodynamics, order some in vivo pharmacodynamics tests to determine the health effects of individual alkaloids on receptor targets in the human brain.
The scientific team at the college will continue developing treatment strategies to detox addicts off opioids, similar in the way the classically accepted drugs, buprenorphine and methadone,which are more addictive and are currently prescribed. Although less addictive than heroin and other prescription opioids, they are narcotics with the potential to be abused, which is why university researchers are interested in safer alternatives to suboxone.
The last main research objective is for McCurdy to change a natural substance in kratom to reduce symptoms of opioid withdrawal.