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ETSU professor receives grant to research transdermal treatment of opioid addiction

Contributed • Feb 14, 2020 at 5:20 PM

A faculty member at East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy has received a grant to aid in her research of the transdermal naloxone treatment of opioid addiction, potentially saving more lives from overdose by making the life-saving drug easier to administer and require fewer doses.

Dr. Ashana Puri, assistant professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, received one of 16 national American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy 2020 New Investigator Awards worth $10,000 that will help fund her research project “Development of Transdermal Systems of Naloxone for Treatment of Opioid Addiction.”

“I was excited to have received recognition for my research at an early stage in my career right now, which provides me the motivation to keep moving and think about more ideas,” Puri said.

Naloxone is a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose. It is currently administered by a professional as an injectable; however, anyone can administer the medication in its autoinjector and nasal spray forms.

A transdermal system would explore ways to administer naloxone through the skin. Puri’s project will focus on making naloxone as easy as possible to administer, eliminating the use of needles by a professional, and decreasing the chance of someone needing multiple doses. She said research has been very limited in this area and she hopes to contribute a lot more to the field.

“This project can serve as a starting point for exploring how transdermal system can be used for delivery,” Puri said. “Which I believe based on my experience … would be widely accepted by the public.”

Originally from Chandigarh, India, Puri completed her Ph.D. in Pharmaceutics at Mercer University and worked on transdermal drug formulations with well-known scientist Dr. Ajay Banga.

She also has experience working on research projects with cosmetic companies L’Oreal and NuFace. Puri earned a Master of Science in Pharmaceutics and a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Panjab University, India. She worked as a research intern and associate scientist at Teva Pharmaceuticals in West Chester, Pennsylvania, before joining ETSU.

Gatton College of Pharmacy’s American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists Generation Rx committee — a student pharmacist service organization centered on prescription medication abuse awareness and prevention — has been recognized nationally, earning No. 1 or No. 2 in the country the past six years in a row for its efforts to stop opioid abuse.

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