Atomic Structure of Molecule That Binds to Opioids in the Brain Discovered. Scientists have for the first time determined the three-dimensional atomic structure of a human opioid receptor, a molecule on the surface of brain cells that binds to opioids and is centrally involved in pleasure, pain, addiction, depression, psychosis, and related conditions. Dozens of legal and illegal drugs, from heroin to hospital anesthetics, work by targeting these receptors. The detailed atomic structure information paves the way for the design of safer and more effective opioid drugs. (Credit: Image courtesy of The Scripps Research Institute)
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