Findings from a study published last month in the journal Biological Psychiatry may offer a better understanding of the mechanism by which morphine acts on receptor proteins in the brain. The results may point to a new target for the development of pain medications that are less addictive, and permit better determination of genetic disposition to addiction, according to the authors. The research, conducted by a team from The Scripps research Institute (TSRI) highlights the role of a specific molecule in affecting the mu opioid receptor.
The molecule regulates a protein, RGS7, that is normally abundant in the brain and that acts as a brake on the conductive signal of the mu opioid receptor. Using genetically altered mice that lacked RGS7, the team found a predisposition to morphine addiction in the test animals. Study author Laurie P. Sutton commented, “This study reveals a unique modulatory role of RGS7 in a brain-region-specific action to morphine use and indicates RGS7 as a potential drug target. Pharmacological intervention at the level of RGS7 may reduce some of the detrimental side-effects associated with opiates.”
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Read more about the study findings here.
The journal abstract may be read here.
Posted on September 23, 2015