Research in the Vassoler lab to examines various therapeutic modalities to treat substance use disorder with a focus on opioids. In particular, the lab is developing non-pharmacological therapeutics to treat relapse-like behavior including deep brain stimulation and magnetic nanoparticle stimulation. We also aim to uncover molecular changes in the brain that mediate and maintain addiction-like behaviors. We utilize the behavioral model of self-administration and reinstatement in rodents to discover neural changes in both coding and non-coding RNAs. The discovery of such changes can lead to novel therapeutic options to treat opioid use disorder as well as potential biomarkers for individualized care.
Additionally, the laboratory examines the impact of exposure to drugs of abuse in one generation on the behavior of subsequent generations. This includes pre-natal and pre-conception exposures in males and females. I am particularly interested in the molecular mechanisms and developmental changes that are a consequence of opioid exposure across the lifespan. Specifically, we examine epigenetic alterations at the level of the gamete and the blastocyst to determine the mechanisms by which these changes are transmitted.