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New Study Reveals Molecular Mechanisms Behind Diverse Functions of Opioid Receptors



Study gives more insight into molecular causes of different functions of opioid receptors, ET HealthWorld

A recent study conducted by Dr Matthias Elgeti, a biophysicist at Leipzig University, along with international research groups, has shed light on the molecular mechanisms of opioid receptors and their interaction with drugs. Published in the journal Nature, the findings reveal the dangerous effects of drugs targeting opioid receptors, such as fentanyl, which can lead to fatal overdoses.

Opioid receptors play a crucial role in pain perception and other bodily functions. The study found that superagonists like fentanyl can stabilize a state of the receptor that results in highly potent and long-lasting signal transmission, making them particularly dangerous. By using advanced techniques like electron spin resonance and single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy, researchers were able to identify different states of the opioid receptor and the structural effects of various binding partners.

The research, which involved isolating opioid receptors to study their interactions with drugs, is a vital step in understanding the regulatory mechanisms of these receptors. Despite the progress made in this study, further research is needed to fully comprehend the molecular interactions and develop safer medications based on these findings. Dr Elgeti emphasizes the importance of ongoing research to improve drug development and ensure the safety of patients.

As opioid receptors are part of the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) family, which control essential signaling processes in the body, including taste, smell, and neurotransmitter binding, the implications of this study extend beyond opioids. The researchers hope that the insights gained from studying opioid receptors can be applied to other members of the GPCR family, paving the way for more effective and safer drug development in the future.

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