His groups research on morphine and how it affects specific protiens is provided below.
[Original Source: http://www.futurity.org]
U. COLORADO-BOULDER (US) —Understanding morphine’s effects on two protein receptors in the central nervous system could help make the drug more effective and less likely to be abused.
Scientists have known that a particular protein receptor known as toll-like receptor 4, or TLR4, helps to activate inflammation-signaling pathways to attack foreign substances like bacteria and viruses, says University of Colorado Boulder Assistant Professor Hang “Hubert” Yin of the chemistry and biochemistry department.
The new study shows opiod analgesics like morphine also trigger such neuroinflammation by first binding to an accessory protein receptor known as a myeloid differentiation protein receptor 2, or MD-2, which then works in concert with TLR4 to respond to morphine in the central nervous system, says Yin, who led the study.
The new findings should help researchers develop new drugs not only to increase the effectiveness of medical opiates like morphine by preventing neuroinflammation that enhances pain by increasing the excitability of neurons in the pain pathway, but also to influence the TLR4/MD-2 protein complex in a way that may help prevent drug abuse.
Such pharmaceuticals could be designed to decrease side effects like tolerance, dependence, and addiction not only in opiates, but in methamphetamines, cocaine, and even alcohol, says Yin, also a faculty member at the BioFrontiers Institute.
“While inflammation is part of the body’s natural defense system to protect it after injury or infection, too much inflammation is unhealthy,” says Yin. “We hope our new findings on how this particular protein complex works can help us to understand morphine-induced inflammation and eventually lead to therapeutics to make morphine work more efficiently with fewer side effects.”
Dr. Yin's Research as also be featured in Nature: