The “Middle Child” of the Opioid Receptor Family: Targeting the Delta Opioid Receptor as a Promising Treatment Approach for Migraine – A Podcast with Amynah Pradhan

By Fred Schwaller | September 5, 2022 | Posted in

Editor’s note: This is the sixth in a series of interviews and podcasts with Migraine Science Collaborative editorial board members.

Amynah Pradhan, PhD, is the director of the Center for Clinical Pharmacology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Previously she was an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She investigates novel therapies for migraine and identified the delta opioid receptor as a promising target for this disorder. Ongoing studies in her lab are focused on the differential role of mu and delta opioid receptors in headache. Additionally, her work focuses on identifying the molecular mechanisms that contribute to migraine chronicity, as well as overlapping mechanisms between migraine and neuropsychiatric conditions.

In this podcast, Pradhan speaks with Fred Schwaller, PhD, a freelance science writer based in Germany, to chat about the promise of targeting delta opioid receptors as a way to treat migraine – without the adverse consequences of current drugs that target the mu opioid receptor (another main subtype of opioid receptor.) She also discusses her recent work on neuronal complexity (see MSC related news article), her thoughts about the migraine field more broadly, and more.

Listen to the podcast below. (The podcast is also available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.)

Glossary:

Cytoarchitecture: The structural arrangement of neurons.

Cytoskeleton: A network of protein filaments in the cell cytoplasm that give cells their shape and internal organization.

Delta opioid receptor (DOR): One of the main subtypes of opioid receptors. Targeting this receptor is an approach now under investigation as a possible treatment for migraine. The two other main subtypes of opioid receptors are the mu opioid receptor and the kappa opioid receptor.

DOR green fluorescent protein (GFP) mice:  Genetically engineered mice that contain a fluorescent protein allowing researchers to visualize where the DOR is present in neurons.

Histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6): A protein that destabilizes microtubules through deacetylation (see below).

Microtubules: Cylindrical protein structures that help form the cytoskeleton.

Microtubule acetylation/de-acetylation: The addition or removal of a molecule called an acetyl group from microtubules.

Neuronal complexity: The length of neurons along with the number of neuronal processes, including axons and dendrites.

Fred Schwaller, PhD, is a freelance science writer based in Germany. Follow him on Twitter @SchwallerFred

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Fred Schwaller is a science writer and communicator based in Berlin, Germany. Fred spent a decade in pain research during his doctoral degree at University College London, UK, and his postdoc at the Max Delbrück Centre in Berlin, Germany. After transferring to science communication in 2020, he has been writing and podcasting about life sciences and medicine, specializing in somatosensation and pain. Follow him on Twitter @SchwallerFred.

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