Manish Kumar Madasu Presented with Toni Shippenberg Young Investigator Award at KappaCon 2021

Published on 18 May 2021

Manish Kumar Madasu, Ph.D., postdoctoral research associate at the Center for Clinical Pharmacology, was the recent recipient of the Toni Shippenberg Young Investigator Award during the KappaCon 2021 Kappa Therapeutics Conference, which was held virtually in early April.

Created in recognition of kappa opioid researcher, Toni Shippenberg, the award is given every two years to students or postdoctoral researchers presenting the best talks or posters during the conference. Madasu was recognized for his presentation titled, “Peripheral Kappa Opioid Receptor Activation Drives Cold Hypersensitivity in Mice.”

The presentation highlighted Madasu’s recent work to investigate the role of the peripheral kappa opioid receptor system in cold hypersensitivity and cold pain. Madasu has been conducting his research under the mentorship of Ream Al-Hasani, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmaceutical science at University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis (UHSP) and other members of her research team.

With cold hypersensitivity being a chronic condition prevalent in individuals with neuropathic pain conditions such as multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia, little is known about the mechanisms involved in the modulation of cold hypersensitivity and cold pain.

“Common medications used to treat neuropathic pain are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opioids and anti-epileptics, but these don’t relieve or treat the heightened cold sensitivity and pain that patients experience,” Madasu explained. “What our team has been working to do is find a potential role for the kappa opioid receptor system in the mediation of cold hypersensitivity, and what we’ve discovered in mice is that when kappa opioid receptors are activated outside of the brain, somewhere in the periphery, the mice felt an increase in cold sensation after these receptor activations took place.”

Madasu says this research is important because it demonstrates that the role of kappa opioid receptors in cold sensitivity is restricted to the activation of peripheral kappa opioid receptors.

“This discovery is helping to provide greater understanding of the mechanisms by which the kappa opioid receptor system modulates cold hypersensitivity, and how this system may also be involved in the modulation of cold pain,” Madasu said. “In the short term, our findings will have positive impacts on the basic understanding of the basic mechanisms of cold hypersensitivity, and in the long run, this research has the potential to help us develop alternative therapeutic targets that will allow us to treat cold hypersensitivity and pain.”

Throughout the research process, Madasu notes that several UHSP students have made significant contributions. Those serving as contributors to the research team and gaining critical research experience were P3 students Joel Arackal, Sreemathi Palanisamy and Sasha Singh.

“It was incredible to be able to present our novel findings at KappaCon 2021 to individuals from across the globe, and even more amazing to accept the Toni Shippenberg Young Investigator Award on behalf of our lab,” Madasu said. “Over the years, many prominent researchers in the kappa opioid field have received this award, and it felt great to be selected amongst such eminent scientists.”

Established in August 2015, the Center for Clinical Pharmacology is a partnership between University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis and the Department of Anesthesiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The center continues to diversify with faculty investigators currently engaged a variety of diverse research areas. Click here to learn more.

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