New opioid drugs with less addictive potential could be on the way thanks to a study revealing how morphine derivatives bind to a receptor.
Opioid painkillers act on several receptors in the brain. Most of their effects are brought about through the mu opioid receptor, but this pathway is associated with severe side effects, including physical dependence and suppression of breathing, which can be fatal. Over 50,000 deaths were attributed to opioids in the US in 2016.
Another subtype, the kappa opioid receptor, can also reduce pain. Drugs that target it selectively don’t seem to be rewarding and addictive, but they have other severe side effects, like types of depression and hallucinations.
Daniel Wacker at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and colleagues used X-ray crystallography
Published at Thu, 04 Jan 2018 17:00:00 +0000