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OHSU lab finds meth receptor that could lead to therapy

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A recently discovered signaling system in the brain has just been shown to be turned on by methamphetamine, an Oregon Health & Science University study found.

The signaling system could soon become a target for therapies aiming to reverse meths adverse health effects as well as reduce the craving that drives its abuse.

Working in the recently opened Program in Chemical Biology in the OHSU School of Medicine's Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, scientists demonstrated the new target of meth, and its close relative amphetamine, is a G protein-coupled receptor known as trace amine-associated receptor 1, or TAAR1 for short.

"The Program in Chemical Biology at OHSU is one of the few in the U.S. that allows biologists and chemists to work side-by-side, using their combined skills to identify drug targets and to design new drugs to treat diseases like drug addiction," said David Dawson, Ph.D., OHSU professor and chairman of physiology and pharmacology. "Chemical space that is, the number of possible drug molecules that could exist is incredibly large. Our aim is to mine that space in order to uncover novel therapies."

TAAR1 was originally discovered in the laboratory of David K. Grandy, Ph.D., OHSU professor of physiology and pharmacology. Grandys lab found TAAR1 is activated by chemical relatives of meth known as phenylethylamines. The messenger RNA that codes for TAAR1 is expressed throughout the brain, including areas involved in motivation and drug craving, olfaction the sense of smell and temperature regulation, to name a few.

"With this kind of pharmacological profile and brain distribution, we hypothesized TAAR1 could mediate some of meths metabolic and behavioral effects," explained Grandy, who also directed the groundbreaking research.

"In our most recent article, we provide clear evidence that methamphetamine is a full and potent agonist of TAAR1. In other words, TAAR1
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Contact: Jonathan Modie
modiej@ohsu.edu
503-494-8231
Oregon Health & Science University
18-Apr-2007


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