Anna Taylor


Dr. Taylor is an Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in Pain and Addiction in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Alberta. Dr. Taylor’s research program engages a broad range of disciplines including pharmacology, microbiology, genetics, and animal behaviour to provide mechanistic insight into how affective circuitry contributes to pain and addiction. She heads a state-of-the-art neuropharmacology research lab equipped to study animal models of opioid dependence, behavioural analysis of pain and affect, and cellular and molecular brain imaging.

Node Funded Project (February 2022)

Title: Preclinical investigation for the use of brexpiprazole in the treatment of opioid use disorder

Principal Investigator: Anna Taylor, University of Alberta


Serdar Dursun, University of Alberta

Description: Brexpiprazole is a partial dopamine agonist currently approved by Health Canada for the adjunctive treatment of major depressive disorder. Theoretical reasoning based on our understanding of the dopamine system in addiction suggest it may also be effective at curbing drug craving in patients with an opioid use disorder. Indeed, anecdotal reports from our clinical practice suggest that adjunctive brexpiprazole treatment is effective at improving abstinence rates in a patient population with opioid use disorder.  The goal of the experiments proposed here is to provide solid proof-of-principle that brexpiprazole is effective at mitigating some of the unwanted side effects associated with opioid dependence in an animal model of addiction. This will pave the way for future clinical trials to assess whether brexpiprazole is an effective therapy for opioid use disorder.

Results: In this study, we examined the effectiveness of the atypical antipsychotic drug, brexpiprazole, to treat symptoms of chronic opioid use in a mouse model of opioid use disorder. We found that brexpiprazole was effective at minimizing some symptoms of chronic opioid use, including locomotor sensitization, reward sensitization and reinstatement, and opioid induced hyperalgesia. This results provide important pre-clinical evidence that brexpiprazole may be an effective therapy for opioid use disorder.



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