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S. Michael Owens

Professor and Director, Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse, and a Wilbur Mills Endowed Chair in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention


University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1980

Research Interests
The objective of my research program is to develop antibody-based medications for use in treating the neurological problems associated with drug abuse. The projects involve the integration of multidisciplinary basic science studies with the application of these scientific discoveries to the treatment of human disease. These studies utilize molecular design, hybridoma technology, antibody engineering techniques, as well as studies of the effects of drug of abuse on brain function. Large scale production of antibodies as drugs is accomplished through the use of bioreactors, along with the development of the technology for the molecular and biological engineering of plant-derived antibodies. For the in vivo testing of the antibody-based medications, a comprehensive series of pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic studies following active and passive immunization are being conducted in animal models of human drug abuse. A major goal of these studies is to better understand the mechanism by which these new medications can be used to treat adverse chemical effects on the central nervous system. Thus, these studies are serving as a prototypic system to acquire knowledge that can be applied to antibody-based therapy for a wide variety of human diseases. 

See a video presentation of the Owens group research.

Selected Publications

Gentry WB, Raedi-Bettschen D, and Owens SM. Development of Active and Passive Human Vaccines to Treat Methamphetamine Addiction. Human Vaccines Vol. 5(4), 2009.
White, S.J., Laurenzana, E.M., Gentry, W.B., Hendrickson, H.P., Williams, K., Ward, K.W., Owens, S.M.: Vulnerability to (+)-Methamphetamine Effects and the Relationship to Drug Disposition in Pregnant Rats during Chronic Infusion. Tox Sci. 111: 27-36, 2009.

Peterson, E.C. and Owens, S.M.: Designing immunotherapies to thwart drug abuse. Mol Interv, 9:119-124, 2009.

Laurenzana, E.M., Hendrickson, H.P., Carpenter, D., Peterson, E.C., Gentry, W.B., West, M., Carroll, F.I. and Owens, S.M.: Functional and Biological Determinants affecting the Duration of Action and Efficacy of Anti-(+)-Methamphetamine Monoclonal Antibodies in Rats. Vaccine, 27 (50): 7011-7020, 2009.

Celikel R, Peterson EC, Owens SM, Varughese KI. Crystal structures of a therapeutic single chain antibody in complex with two drugs of abuse - methamphetamine and 3,4 methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine. Protein Sci. 18 (11): 2336-2345, 2009.

Carroll, FI, Abraham, P, Gong, PK, Ramakrishna, RP, Blough, BE, Che, Y, Hampton, A, Gunnell, M, Lay, JO, Owens, S.M. The synthesis of haptens and their use for the development of monoclonal antibodies for treating methamphetamine abuse. J Med Chem. 52 (22): 7301-7309, 2009.

Gentry WB, Ruedi-Bettschen D, Owens SM. Anti-(+)-methamphetamine monoclonal antibody antagonists designed to prevent the progression of human diseases of addiction. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 88:390-393, 2010.