University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
Skip to Content
UBNow

News and views for UB faculty and staff

Research News

Researching opioid addiction treatment

By JACKIE HAUSLER

Published March 6, 2017

“What we hypothesize is that liver impairment results in impaired methadone metabolism.”
Marianthi Markatou, professor and associate chair of research and healthcare informatics
Department of Biostatistics

While the opioid epidemic is ever-present across the nation, UB plans to research an opioid addiction treatment associated with the function of liver fibrosis. The new research award is funded from the University of Rochester and National Institutes of Health.

Marianthi Markatou, professor and associate chair of research and healthcare informatics in the Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health and Health Professions, is a key player in the project titled, "A Study of Methadone Pharmacokinetics in Patients with and without Liver Fibrosis, Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection, and HCV/HIV Co-Infection."

Also known as MeDiCALF (Methadone Disposition Changes Associated with Liver Fibrosis), the main aim of the study is to assess methadone pharmacokinetics as a function of liver fibrosis. Methadone is a synthetic opioid used in the treatment of opioid addiction.

The use of methadone is considered an important strategy in the prevention of acquisition of HIV and viral hepatitis in individuals with high-risk behaviors. Methadone pharmacokinetics are characterized by substantial inter-individual variability, the sources of which remain largely unknown.

“What we hypothesize is that liver impairment results in impaired methadone metabolism,” explains Markatou. “This can lead to the possibility of methadone toxicity that can potentially lead to death.”

Markatou also notes that statistical modeling offers a useful avenue for the study of pharmacokinetic properties of methadone.

“Mixed effects models, in this particular instance, can help us create new methodological research, research that will ultimately be used in this study.”

In addition to UB’s Markatou, this study is a collaboration between the University of Rochester, Washington University in Saint Louis and START Treatment and Recovery Center in New York City.