Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Scripps' Scientists Develop Promising Drug Candidates for Pain and Addiction

Published: Thursday, January 16, 2014
Last Updated: Thursday, January 16, 2014
Bookmark and Share
Two new drug scaffolds offer researchers novel tools that act on the kappa opioid receptor.

Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have described a pair of drug candidates that advance the search for new treatments for pain, addiction and other disorders.

The two new drug scaffolds, described in a recent edition of The Journal of Biological Chemistry, offer researchers novel tools that act on a demonstrated therapeutic target, the kappa opioid receptor (KOR), which is located on nerve cells and plays a role in the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

While compounds that activate KOR are associated with positive therapeutic effects, they often also recruit a molecule known as βarrestin2 (beta arrestin), which is associated with depressed mood and severely limits any therapeutic potential.

“Compounds that act at kappa receptors may provide a means for treating addiction and for treating pain; however, there is the potential for the development of depression or dysphoria associated with this receptor target,” said Laura Bohn, a TSRI associate professor who led the study. “There is evidence that the negative feelings caused by kappa receptor drugs may be, in part, due to receptor actions through proteins called beta arrestins. Developing compounds that activate the receptors without recruiting beta arrestin function may serve as a means to improve the therapeutic potential and limit side effects.”

The new compounds are called “biased agonists,” activating the receptor without engaging the beta arrestins.

Research Associate Lei Zhou, first author of the study with Research Associate Kimberly M. Lovell, added, “The importance of these biased agonists is that we can manipulate the activation of one particular signaling cascade that produces analgesia, but not the other one that could lead to dysphoria or depression.”

The researchers note that the avoidance of depression is particularly important in addiction treatment, where depressed mood can play a role in relapse.

The two drug candidates also have a high affinity and selectivity for KOR over other opioid receptors and are able to pass through the blood-brain barrier. Given these promising attributes, the scientists plan to continue developing the compounds.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Potential Treatment for Life-Threatening Viral Infections Revealed
The findings point to new therapies for Dengue, West Nile and Ebola.
Thursday, November 26, 2015
German and US Partners Join Forces in Stem Cell Research
Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in California, USA, and two German institutes, the Center for Integrated Psychiatry Kiel (ZIP) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME, have announced a partnership to advance the quality control of human stem cells.
Monday, October 19, 2015
How Small RNA Helps Form Memories
In a new study, a team of scientists at Scripps Florida has found that a type of genetic material called "microRNA" (miRNA) plays surprisingly different roles in the formation of memory in animal models.
Friday, August 21, 2015
Scientists Find Structure of a Protein that Makes Cancer Cells Resistant to Chemotherapy
A research team at the Scripps Research Institute has obtained the first glimpse of a protein that keeps certain substances, including many drugs, out of cells.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Scientific News
High Throughput Mass Spectrometry-Based Screening Assay Trends
Dr John Comley provides an insight into HT MS-based screening with a focus on future user requirements and preferences.
Promising Drug Combination for Advanced Prostate Cancer
A new drug combination may be effective in treating men with metastatic prostate cancer. Preliminary results of this new approach are encouraging and have led to an ongoing international study being conducted in 196 hospitals worldwide.
Non-Disease Proteins Kill Brain Cells
Scientists at the forefront of cutting-edge research into neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have shown that the mere presence of protein aggregates may be as important as their form and identity in inducing cell death in brain tissue.
Potential Treatment for Life-Threatening Viral Infections Revealed
The findings point to new therapies for Dengue, West Nile and Ebola.
Gut Microbes Signal to the Brain When They're Full
Don't have room for dessert? The bacteria in your gut may be telling you something.
Personalized Drug Screening for Multiple Myeloma Patients
A personalized method for testing the effectiveness of drugs that treat multiple myeloma may predict quickly and more accurately the best treatments for individual patients with the bone marrow cancer.
Nanocarriers May Carry New Hope for Brain Cancer Therapy
Berkeley lab researchers develop nanoparticles that can carry therapeutics across the brain blood barrier.
Cancer-Fighting Tomato Component Traced
The metabolic pathway associated with lycopene, the bioactive red pigment found in tomatoes, has been traced by researchers at the University of Illinois.
Batten Disease may Benefit from Gene Therapy
NIH-funded animal study suggests one-shot approach to injecting genes.
Shedding Light on “Dark” Cellular Receptors
UNC and UCSF labs create a new research tool to find homes for two orphan cell-surface receptors, a crucial step toward finding better therapeutics and causes of drug side effects.

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos