UNCG Research

$233,250 NIH award to Reggio for investigation of potential cannabinoid receptor- breaking news


Posted on Thursday, June 21st, 2012 by UNCG Research.
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Patricia H. Reggio, Marie Foscue Rourk Professor and Head, Chemistry and Biochemistry

UNCG Research congratulates Dr. Patricia Reggio on her National Institutes of Health award. The $233,250 in funding will support her project, “Optimization of High Selectivity Antagonist Hits for the GPR55 Receptor.”

Dr. Reggio’s work centers on a superfamily of receptor proteins known as G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). GPCRs serve as bridges of communication across cell membranes.  Based on the molecules they sense outside of a cell, GPCR proteins will initiate various responses inside the cell.

GPCRs form one of the largest and most diverse protein families in nature. They play important roles in diverse biological processes, including neuromodulation, metabolic disorders, inflamation, and pain. As a result, GPCRs draw intense interest in pharmaceutical research.

The Reggio lab investigates drug interactions with these proteins, with a particular focus on GPCR proteins known as cannabinoid receptors. Cannabinoid receptors are found primarily in the brain and immune system and are most popularly known for their interaction with the primary psychoactive component of cannabis. Investigating these receptors provides insight into therapeutic effects associated with cannabis, which include euphoric, anticonvulsive, and anti-inflammatory responses.

Reggio’s new NIH funding centers on the GPR55 protein, a potential cannabinoid receptor. Found widely expressed in the brain, GPR55 may affect inflammatory pain, neuropathic pain, and bone development and could play an important role in drug abuse. The newly-funded study aims to identify certain molecules capable of turning off GPR55’s effects.

Dr. Mitch Croatt of UNCG’s Chemistry and Biochemistry Department and Dr. Mary Abood of Temple University serve as Co-PIs with Dr. Reggio on this project. Dr. Croatt will synthesize the compounds identified by the Reggio lab. Then, Dr. Abood’s lab will evaluate the newly-synthesized molecules.