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Nonopioid Chronic Pain Treatment Research

Grant Targets Potential of Endosomal Receptors

Two scientists from the New York University College of Dentistry have received a grant of $3,900,000 to research potential targets of chronic pain. Over the next 5 years, endosomal receptors will be studied with the aim of improving the management of pain, and using fewer—or no—opioids. The researchers will “explore signaling mechanisms related to a family of proteins called G protein-coupled receptors [GPCRs], which control most disordered physiological processes, including pain, and are the target of one third of clinically used drugs. While GPCRs are thought to function at the surface of the cell, they can be subsumed within cellular organelles called endosomes” which may sustain neuronal excitability in the context of chronic pain.

The grant went to researchers Dr. Brian Schmidt, director of NYU Bluestone Center for Clinical Research, and Dr. Nigel Bunnett, chair of the Department of Molecular Pathobiology at NYU College of Dentistry, who commented that, “Our hypothesis—that signaling continues after a GCPR enters an endosome—breaks with the currently accepted interpretation that this process squelches signaling. Many GPCR-targeted drugs have failed clinical trials, but perhaps this is because drugs should be targeting eGPCRs inside the endosome instead.” The aim of their research is to develop new medications for cancer pain, inflammation, and neuropathic pain, and reduce dependence on opioids, avoiding the potential for addiction and adverse side effects.


Read the press release.