Graduate Seminar Series
Every week at 11:30 AM • ENGR 406
See below for exact dates
Department of Biology
Utah State University
Novel targets to treat chronic pain
Abstract: Chronic pain is a huge problem that affects about one-third of the U.S. population. Despite many years of research for alternatives, opioids remain the most prescribed drugs to treat many types of pain, even though they possess many side effects including addiction. The goal of my lab is to investigate novel therapeutics are needed to treat pain with reduced side effects. One area of focus in the lab is to determine the signaling mechanisms involved in opioid-induced analgesia and tolerance. When a person becomes tolerant to a drug, the dose must be increased in order to achieve the same level of pain relief, and that will lead to an increase in side effects. If we can determine what cellular changes cause tolerance, we can develop novel drugs that target these specific signaling pathways to better treat pain. We have shown that commonly used opioids, such as morphine and fentanyl, produce analgesia using different signaling mechanisms, which leads to differences in the development of tolerance to these drugs and inhibition of these pathways lead to reduced tolerance. In addition, we are exploring the novel neuropeptide-receptor system (BigLEN-GPR171) in pain and opioid functions. We found that following repeated opioid treatment there is an increase in GPR171 expression and signaling in various brain regions including the nucleus accumbens and amygdala which are known brain structures that mediate stress and reward. In addition, we see that blocking GPR171 function decreases morphine-induced antinociception, reward, and withdrawal. Taken together, these studies investigate novel targets to reduce pain with decreased side effects of tolerance and addiction.
Dilpreet Bajwa, Ph.D.
Dept. of Mechanical Engineering
North Dakota State Universty