The research unit in chemical biology and peptide research is pursuing interdisciplinary research in the areas of medicinal chemistry and the molecular pharmacology of hormonal and neuronal peptides. Major peptides studied in recent years include opioid and antioxidant peptides.
Substantial progress has been made in developing selective antagonists for various opioid receptors and new peptide analogs and peptidomimetics with a μ agonist / δ antagonist opioid profile. These potent analgesics produce some tolerance but no dependence and hold great potential for controlling chronic pain. Research scientists in this unit have also developed an analgesic that is 3,000 times more potent than morphine, but does not produce respiratory depression when peripherally administered. The compound could be used as a general spinal analgesic and in particular as an obstetric analgesic, since it does not cross the placental barrier.
The antioxidant peptides developed in collaboration with Dr. Hazel Szeto (SS-peptides) act at the mitochondrial level and hold great potential for the treatment of various diseases such as neurodegenerative conditions and myocardial reperfusion syndrome.