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Papers of the Week

Papers: 31 Oct 2020 - 6 Nov 2020

Pharmacology/Drug Development

2020 Nov 02




Development of Diphenethylamines as Selective Kappa Opioid Receptor Ligands and Their Pharmacological Activities.


Schmidhammer H, Erli F, Guerrieri E, Spetea M
Molecules. 2020 Nov 02; 25(21).
PMID: 33147885.


Among the opioid receptors, the kappa opioid receptor (KOR) has been gaining substantial attention as a promising molecular target for the treatment of numerous human disorders, including pain, pruritus, affective disorders (i.e., depression and anxiety), drug addiction, and neurological diseases (i.e., epilepsy). Particularly, the knowledge that activation of the KOR, opposite to the mu opioid receptor (MOR), does not produce euphoria or leads to respiratory depression or overdose, has stimulated the interest in discovering ligands targeting the KOR as novel pharmacotherapeutics. However, the KOR mediates the negative side effects of dysphoria/aversion, sedation, and psychotomimesis, with the therapeutic promise of biased agonism (i.e., selective activation of beneficial over deleterious signaling pathways) for designing safer KOR therapeutics without the liabilities of conventional KOR agonists. In this review, the development of new KOR ligands from the class of diphenethylamines is presented. Specifically, we describe the design strategies, synthesis, and pharmacological activities of differently substituted diphenethylamines, where structure-activity relationships have been extensively studied. Ligands with distinct profiles as potent and selective agonists, G protein-biased agonists, and selective antagonists, and their potential use as therapeutic agents (i.e., pain treatment) and research tools are described.