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Dr. Lawrence Toll, Full Member and Director of Neuropharmacology at Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies will study potential treatments for acute and chronic pain with reduced addiction, thanks to a 5 year, $1.86 million grant awarded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The major goals of this project are to better understand the mechanism by which NOP receptor agonists have greater antinociceptive potential for chronic pain and to identify novel compounds acting at NOP receptors that could act as treatments for both acute and chronic pain with reduced addiction, and potentially as drug abuse medications.

“Since our discovery of the brain peptide nociceptin, back in 1995, it was obvious that it was involved in both pain and drug abuse. This grant will help us explain how this opioid-related peptide is involved in the transition from acute to chronic pain and drug addiction,” Dr. Toll explained. “In addition, we will synthesize and test novel compounds that interact with the nociceptin receptor with the aim of developing non-addicting painkillers and medications to treat drug addiction.”

Dr. Lawrence Toll’s research focuses on the management of pain and drug addiction through pharmacology and new drug discovery. His basic research on opioid and NOP systems, and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, as well as his identification and characterization of endogenous neuropeptides, have opened new avenues of research and identified novel drug targets. In collaboration with medicinal chemists, Dr. Toll seeks to explore basic mechanisms and the biochemical basis of chronic pain and drug addiction, and to identify novel medications for both disorders.

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