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Endogenous opioids in the CNS 

Endogenous opioids in the CNS
Endogenous opioids in the CNS

Tony Dickenson

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date: 19 September 2021

This short and concise paper was the first to unequivocally reveal that there were endogenous opioids in the central nervous system (CNS), identify their peptide nature and sequence, and show that they exerted physiological inhibitory effects. The idea that there were natural opioids fitted with concurrent reports of opiate-binding sites, and this led to the description of multiple receptors with their own families of peptide transmitters. No truly novel opioid drugs have emerged since, and attempts to protect and manipulate the enkephalins for pain control have yet to be successful. This does not detract from this key study, which made us think about pain modulation in a different way, and subsequent work has clearly shown how endogenous opioid signalling is critical in CNS function, perhaps most importantly in endogenous pain control, such as that harnessed by placebo analgesia.

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