Research in my laboratory involves experimental therapeutics, pharmacokinetics, and preclinical development of antibody-based medications (monoclonal antibodies and vaccines) for the treatment of substance use disorders. The drugs of abuse currently under study are MDPV and methamphetamine. Our first medication, an anti-methamphetamine chimeric monoclonal antibody for the treatment of methamphetamine substance use disorders, has completed an FDA Phase 1a clinical trial.
Melinda Gunnel has worked for Dr. Owens in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology since 1986 providing technical, administrative and managerial support for his laboratory group. During this time she has served as laboratory director and supervised numerous staff members. She also helped train a total of 13 MD/PhD, PhD, and PharmD/PhD graduate students, along with 5 Post-doctoral fellows. In 2015 she received the College of Medicine Staff Excellence Award in the Research Category.
Mike West, B.S. (Research Associate)
Mike has worked for UAMS since 1982 in various teaching and research laboratories. He has assisted with ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, and peanut allergen research projects. For eight years he has worked for Dr. Owens providing technical support with an emphasis on monoclonal antibody purification, formulation, and characterization to aid in Dr. Owens’ goals to develop antibody-based medications for use in treating drug abuse.
Dr. Hambuchen is a researcher in Dr. Owen’s laboratory. His research is the area of protein-based medications, specifically anti-stimulant (methamphetamine and synthetic cathinone) monoclonal antibodies and vaccines. These novel biologics are promising for the treatments of medical problems caused by drugs of abuse. These are needed due to the limited efficacy of small molecule drug therapies for stimulant abuse. Additional interests involves developing new analytical methods (behavior, pharmacokinetics, cell culture, etc.) to test the efficacy of these monoclonal antibodies. He is interested in discovering combination therapies that can potentially increase the anti-drug effects relative to monotherapy.
Samantha is a second year graduate student in Dr. Owens’ laboratory. She is funded by a T32 grant (SPaT) predoctoral fellowship from the NIGMS T32 Pharmacological Sciences Training Program. The goal of her research is to discover and test high affinity monoclonal antibodies against two toxic cathinones (MDPV/αPVP) for use in treating cathinone use disorders. Her preclinical studies are focused on evaluating the pharmacokinetics and cardiovascular effects of MDPV and the potential therapeutic use of anti-MDPV antibodies.