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Project Category

Cormier Honors College for Citizen Scholars

Presentation Type

Poster

Description

Understanding drug physiology at the synaptic level is crucial for the design and delivery of treatments for individuals facing opioid addiction. Opioids are analgesic drugs that can agonize endogenous opioid receptors at the neuronal synapse and inhibit signal transduction through pain modulatory pathways, making opioids a popular drug choice for clinical pain management. However, chronic exposure to opioids induces physical and chemical changes in the synapse, resulting in receptor expression downregulation and decreased neurotransmitter synthesis. Downregulation produces a diminished responsiveness to the drug and decreased neurotransmitter release fosters drug dependence, thus contributing to addiction and withdrawal symptoms. These physiological changes are difficult to reverse, thus making addiction treatment and withdrawal management difficult to accomplish.

The current project aims to elucidate the effect of opioids at the synapse in order to further understand the processes behind current addiction treatments through a medicinal chemistry perspective. Through investigation of primary literature concerning opioid activity and neuronal target defense mechanisms, we hope explore strategies for novel drug development in order to counteract the physical, mental, and behavioral consequences of chronic opioid use. As rates of opioid addiction continue to rise, more research is needed to enhance the recovery of individuals facing opioid addiction as well as bring attention to the perils of over-prescribing opioids in clinical settings.

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Saving the Synapse: Assessing Opioid Receptors as Therapeutic Targets in the Management of Opioid Addiction

Understanding drug physiology at the synaptic level is crucial for the design and delivery of treatments for individuals facing opioid addiction. Opioids are analgesic drugs that can agonize endogenous opioid receptors at the neuronal synapse and inhibit signal transduction through pain modulatory pathways, making opioids a popular drug choice for clinical pain management. However, chronic exposure to opioids induces physical and chemical changes in the synapse, resulting in receptor expression downregulation and decreased neurotransmitter synthesis. Downregulation produces a diminished responsiveness to the drug and decreased neurotransmitter release fosters drug dependence, thus contributing to addiction and withdrawal symptoms. These physiological changes are difficult to reverse, thus making addiction treatment and withdrawal management difficult to accomplish.

The current project aims to elucidate the effect of opioids at the synapse in order to further understand the processes behind current addiction treatments through a medicinal chemistry perspective. Through investigation of primary literature concerning opioid activity and neuronal target defense mechanisms, we hope explore strategies for novel drug development in order to counteract the physical, mental, and behavioral consequences of chronic opioid use. As rates of opioid addiction continue to rise, more research is needed to enhance the recovery of individuals facing opioid addiction as well as bring attention to the perils of over-prescribing opioids in clinical settings.