- Pain and Opioids
Pain and Opioids. Pain is a complex and multidimensional experience with sensory and emotional components. The members of the Scherrer Lab aim to elucidate the mechanisms by which our nervous system generates the different dimensions of pain experience, at the genetic, molecular, cellular, neural circuit, and behavioral levels, using the mouse as a model system. We also seek to resolve the mechanisms of action of opioids and understand how these drugs alter activity in neural circuits to produce analgesia, but also deleterious side effects such as tolerance, addiction and respiratory depression. To this aim, we investigate the functional organization of our endogenous opioid system and the localization, trafficking and signaling properties of opioid receptors in neurons in vivo. Collectively, these studies expand our understanding of pain neurobiology and the mechanisms of action of opioids to develop solutions against chronic pain and the opioid epidemic, by identifying novel non-addictive drug targets to treat pain and strategies to disassociate opioid analgesia from side effects.