I am a
Home I AM A Search Login

Papers of the Week

Papers: 21 Jan 2023 - 3 Feb 2023


Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci


Opioid signaling and design of analgesics.


Paul B, Sribhashyam S, Majumdar S
Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2023; 195:153-176.
PMID: 36707153.


Clinical treatment of acute to severe pain relies on the use of opioids. While their potency is significant, there are considerable side effects that can negatively affect patients. Their rise in usage has correlated with the current opioid epidemic in the United States, which has led to more than 70,000 deaths per year (Volkow and Blanco, 2021). Opioid-related drug development aims to make target compounds that show strong potency but with diminished side effects. Research into pharmaceuticals that could act as potential alternatives to current pains medications has relied on mechanistic insights of opioid receptors, a class of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), and biased agonism, a common phenomenon among pharmaceutical compounds where downstream effects can be altered at the same receptor via different agonists. Opioids function typically by binding to an active site on the extracellular portion of opioid receptors. Once activated, the opioid receptor initiates a G-protein signaling pathway and/or the β-arrestin2 pathway. The proposed concept for the development of safe analgesics around mu and kappa opioid receptor subtypes has focused on not recruiting β-arrestin2 (biased agonism) and/or having low efficacy at the receptor (partial agonism). By altering chemical motifs on a common scaffold, chemists can take advantage of biased agonism as well as create compounds with low intrinsic efficacy for the desired treatments. This review will focus on ligands with bias profile, signaling aspects of the receptor and probe into the structural basis of receptor that leads to bias and/or partial agonism.