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$5.5 Million Grant Supports Study of Model to Integrate Treatments for Opioid Addiction, Infectious Diseases

July 31, 2019

As part of a multi-site collaboration involving principal investigators from Columbia University, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), and the University of South Carolina School of Medicine-Greenville, Sandra Springer, MD, will study a new model of treatment for opioid addiction. The investigation is supported by a grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

The opioid epidemic has resulted in a resurgence of deadly infectious diseases such as Hepatitis C (HCV) and HIV, as well as other serious infections, including MRSA and MSSA bacteremia, endocarditis, and osteomyelitis. Untreated addiction to opioids, referred to medically as opioid use disorder, often impedes the proper treatment of infection and leads to significant illness and long hospitals stays.

Springer will partner with Drs. Edward Nunes and Frances Levin of Columbia, Dr. Kathleen Brady of MUSC, and Dr. Alain Litwin, who will conduct research at Prisma Health, University of South Carolina School of Medicine-Greenville. The novel treatment model emphasizes the importance of coupling therapies for opioid use disorder with the management of related infections. The researchers hope this model will improve patient outcomes by integrating infectious disease treatment with use of long-acting injectable buprenorphine, a medication that reduces opioid cravings and opioid relapse. Treatment will also include referrals to community resources for long-term care.

Springer is an associate professor of medicine in the section of infectious diseases at Yale School of Medicine and associate clinical professor of nursing at the Yale School of Nursing. She also is an attending at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System (VACHS) and serves as the director of the infectious disease outpatient clinic at the VACHS Newington in Connecticut.

Submitted by Julie Parry on July 31, 2019