X-ray Unlocking Mechanics of Pain Relief

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the Clinical Pain Advisor take:

New research is targeting how pain-relievers work, and it is hoped that this knowledge would lead to the development of molecules that target these specific receptor sites.

Vadim Cherezov, professor at the University of Southern California's Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and his colleagues used a new technique that features a bright X-ray free electron laser to study the biological structure of a molecule that is structurally similar to the body’s natural ligands. 

Blasting the crystals with a higher-intensity but very short X-ray pulses allowed the research team to use smaller crystals at near-body temperatures, rather than cryo-cooling them, according to a press release on the study.

The resulting structural model has a resolution of 2.7 angstroms, which is precise enough to see how the molecules bind with the neuroreceptors. They studied a new type of pain-reliever that bonds to the same neuroreceptors that morphine does, but without the accompanying physical dependence.

Cherezov and his colleagues now plan to use X-ray lasers to study how receptors like these interact with their signaling partners, and to record a molecular movie of how these receptors transmit signals across the membrane.

X-ray Unlocking Mechanics of Pain Relief
Researchers plan to use X-ray lasers to study how receptors like these interact with their signaling partners
Using a newly developed X-ray source, scientists have revealed how a new type of pain-relievers works - bonding to the same neuroreceptors that morphine does, but without the accompanying physical dependence.
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