Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fun Fact: Two new opioid receptors discovered: Implications for pain control

Ray Stevens of Scripps Institute in La Jolla, CA and Brian Kobilka of Stanford have published in Nature the atomic structures of two new opioid receptors, κ-opioid receptor (κ-OR) and μ-opioid receptor (μ-OR), respectively.

Though crystallization captures the structures of proteins statically, which complicates relying solely on these assessments of structure of the receptors for drug discovery, crystallization of the protein structures has been supplemented with nuclear magnetic resonance imaging and molecular dynamics modeling to help capture the movements of the proteins.

Continued understanding of the structures of opioid G-Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) will hopefully lead to developments in pain management pharmaceuticals that can eliminate problems associated with current opioids, such as addiction issues and recreational abuse based on the euphoria associated with the drug.

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