Opioids’ molecular magic unmasked

First 3-D views show how drugs bind to cells

By Devin Powell, 17:03 PM March 21, 2012

Proteins turned on by opium and similar substances in the body have now been caught in action. Two new snapshots show how cellular proteins lasso molecules in the opium family, revealing the 3-D structure of such pairings for the first time. 

The work represents a major step toward designing more specific analgesics and other drugs that lack opioids’ nasty side effects, two teams of researchers report online March 21 in Nature.

“Both are landmark studies,” says Gavril Pasternak, a neuros...

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