Clinical and translational research on urologic malignancies
Diabetes mellitus and preventive cardiology
The goal of Dr. Johnson’s research is to understand how opioids exert their effects by addressing clinical challenges that appear unrelated but are unified by an innovative theory. We propose a theory that unifies the nature of these disorders by assuming that each involves a dysregulation of the opioid system based on data suggesting that opioid dependence and fibromyalgia are associated with low opioid tone whereas autism is associated with high opioid tone. Our first challenge, therefore, is to create and validate a treatment for opioid dependence that corrects persistent hormonal changes after detoxification. Our second challenge is to treat fibromyalgia. Our third challenge is to assess whether autism is a disease of too-high opioid tone by blocking excess opioid stimulation to treat the symptoms. Opioid dependence, fibromyalgia, and autism are three disorders that cause much distress and disability but are difficult to treat. We test our theory by treating opioid dependence and fibromyalgia with low-dose naltrexone and autism with high-dose naltrexone. Our theory suggests a novel approach that could improve the quality of life of patients suffering from these debilitating disorders.