The National Institutes of Health is making new investments into the BRAIN Initiative, which will include new studies of opioids.
New funds of $ 220 million to support 200 new research awards have been awarded, bringing total 2018 program support to more than $ 400 million, which is 50 percent more than the amount spent last year.
A key goal for the new funding is to use insights learned about the brain to help tackle the pain and opioid crisis, says NIH Director Francis Collins, MD. “Brain diseases are some of the greatest mysteries in modern medicine,” he adds. “These projects will provide new tools and knowledge needed to discover answers for some of the most difficult neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders.”
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NIH hopes taking advantage of BRAIN Initiative advances will help find new treatments for pain that could include new imaging and –omics neurotechnologies to search for non-addictive treatments for pain.
Other new initiatives will include creation of a wireless optical tomography cap for scanning human brain activity; development of a noninvasive brain-computer interface system to improve the lives of patients with paralysis; testing of noninvasive brain stimulation for treating schizophrenia, attention deficit disorders and other brain diseases; new tools to capture views of brain circuits in action, self-growing biological electrodes to record brain activity; and creation of an indestructible hydrogel system—a way to control release of drug delivery—to map neural circuits.
More than 100 research firms received awards to support the projects of as many as 500 investigators. The recent awards are available on the new NIH BRAIN Initiative website.