Majumdar and Che Featured in eLife

Published on 31 March 2021

Susruta Majumdar, Ph.D., associate professor of medicinal chemistry at University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis, and Tao Che, Ph.D., adjunct assistant professor in the University’s Department of Pharmaceutical and Administrative Sciences and assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, were the principal authors of a paper recently published in the scientific journal eLife.

The paper highlights a newly discovered molecule with the potential to provide analgesic pain relief with fewer side effects and less addictive properties than opioids. Majumdar and Che’s research team has been studying the molecule to determine its orientation and how it binds to opioid receptors.

“The orientation of a molecule dictates its analgesic properties,” explained Majumdar. “Through our research, we have determined what kind of orientation we need to have in our molecule, and we think this molecule can provide analgesic properties in mice without the negative side effects often associated with traditional opioid medications. The hope is that our findings will eventually lead to the development of safer drugs that may be beneficial for pain relief.”

The project is a result of ongoing research work in the Che lab aimed at comprehensively characterizing and dissecting the molecular mechanisms of opioid receptor signaling.

“The Che lab’s research team is focused on gaining an atomic-level understanding of opioid receptor activation, and we want to use this information to develop chemical and synthetic biologic tools that will ultimately lead to the development of safer, non-addictive pain medications,” said Che. “Using structural and pharmacological approaches, we hope to identify useful probes to interrogate novel signaling pathways and provide a platform for the discovery of new chemical and biological matter for potential therapeutic applications.”

With the recent publication of their research in eLife, Majumdar notes that work on this project will be ongoing.

“So far, our eLife paper has been very well received,” noted Majumdar. “We currently have a few grant proposals out for this research project, and as our grants get funded, we will continue to convert probes into molecules that can hopefully be used in the future development of analgesic drugs. Our work is focused on continuing to further neuroscience by engaging in drug enabling studies that can provide chemists and pharmacologists with additional tools they can use to create safer and more effective pain relief medications.”

View the full text of Majumdar and Che’s paper.

Click here for details about the many exciting research projects happening at the University. To learn more about projects underway the Center for Clinical Pharmacology, visit

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