Ping-Yee Law, Ph.D.
Professor of Pharmacology
(University of MN affiliated work only)
The opiate analgesic drugs such as morphine and its congeners
are the most powerful pain-killing agents being prescribed.
However, the overall use of these drugs is hindered by the
possibility of tolerance and dependence or addiction development
in patients. Thus, in order to develop a perfect analgesic
agent or pain treatment paradigm, our laboratory actively
pursues the cellular mechanism for tolerance and dependence.
The focus of our research can be classified into three major
topics: (1) the receptor signaling mechanism; (2) regulation
of the receptor activities during chronic treatment; and
(3) the cellular trafficking of the receptor. Since opioid
receptors are members of the rhodopsin subfamily of the super
family of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and their signals
are mediated via the Gi/Go heterotrimeric proteins, the receptors
are regulated similarly as other members of GPCRs. Our studies
on determining the regulation mechanism involve receptor
structural analysis, defining the cellular trafficking of
the receptor, and identifying the cellular proteins that
participate in receptor signaling and regulation. Approaches
and techniques use in these studies encompass biochemical,
molecular biological, cellular, genetic and proteomic analysis
of the components involved. From these studies, an overall
mechanism of opioid tolerance and dependence will be developed
and tested with in vivo animal models.
Dr. Law is Research Council Chair of the Basic Research
Center in Molecular & Cell
Biology of Drug Addiction.