A group of researchers from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have solved the structure of an enzyme that modulates central nervous system (CNS) functions such as pain perception, cognition, feeding, sleep, and locomotor activity.
The enzyme, described in the latest issue of the journal Science, is called fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), and it breaks down certain fatty signaling molecules that reside in the lipid membranes of CNS cells. The TSRI group reports that FAAH modulates the action of these fatty signaling molecules through an unusual mechanism of action whereby it scoops them out of the cell membranes and chews them up.
"I envision that if someone could make a specific inhibitor to FAAH, you could, in principal, get pain relief without any of the side effects," says Benjamin Cravatt, one of the paper’s lead authors and an investigator in TSRI’s Department of Cell Biology, Department of Chemistry, and The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology.
Jason Bardi | EurekAlert!
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