University of Arizona Researcher Given $1.7 Million Grant to Study Ecstasy

A researcher at the University of Arizona will spend the next five years studying the effects of the party drug ecstasy, thanks to a $1.7 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the university announced Friday.

Terrence Monks, head of U of A's Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, won't be examining any of the fun aspects of the "hug drug," though, just the stuff that might make people not want to do it.

"Most research on Ecstasy focuses on the pharmacological, or nontoxic effects of the drug," Monks says. "My interest lies in learning how the drug negatively affects the brain."

Monks will be looking at the long-term damage the drug has on the gray matter, and because ecstasy effects everyone differently, he hopes to be able to pinpoint which people will be the most susceptible to the damage, something the university says is exclusive to Monks' research. 

"Individuals metabolize Ecstasy differently," Monks says. "If 100 people take Ecstasy, perhaps five will metabolize the drug very efficiently, whereas five others will metabolize the drug poorly. Since metabolism of Ecstasy is required for it to produce neurotoxicity, the individual who efficiently metabolizes the drug will likely be more susceptible to the long-term adverse effects."

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