Case Studies

Alcohol addiction

Stephen Hunt from the research  department of Cell & Developmental Biology has found that a mouse that lacks one key receptor (NK1) is resistant to the pleasurable aspects of opiates and alcohol. NK1 gene polymorphisms have been found in samples taken from alcoholic humans and NK1 antagonists used to blunt withdrawal severity.  He is using the mouse to drive a search for new therapies to prevent relapse into drug taking.

  • Torsall A, et al., 2009 The neurokinin-1 receptor is required for alcohol reward and escalation of alcohol intake.  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.

  • George DT, et al., 2008 Neurokinin 1 Receptor Antagonism as a Possible Therapy for Alcoholism. Science.

  • Murtra, P, et al., 2000 Rewarding effects of opiates are absent in mice lacking the receptor for Substance P. Nature 405, 180-183

Neuropathic Pain

Annette Dolphin from the research department of Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology has been studying how the drugs gabapentin and pregabalin have their action.  These drugs are used in the treatment of neuropathic pain and in epilepsy. They bind to the α2δ  subunits of calcium channels, but their mechanism of action was unknown.

She has identified that these drugs inhibit the trafficking of the calcium channel α2δ subunits, and their associated α 1 subunits, which form the channel pore.
This is a novel mechanism of action,  and this work has resulted in the development of novel tools for use in  calcium channel trafficking assays.

  • Hendrich et al (2008) PNAS (USA) 105: 3628–3633.

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