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D. Striving to Better Understand the Opiate Receptor Pathway

Narrator: This is Science Today. According to pain care specialist, Pamela Pierce Palmer of the University of California , San Francisco , physicians are becoming more aware of the psychosocial dynamic of pain management, but she says there needs to be more awareness of the molecular issues underlying it.

Palmer: More people need to really focus on what is occurring at a more physiologically and cellular and molecular level, so that we can in turn, give better medications to patients in pain.

Narrator: In a rat study, Palmer looked into the effects that age had on tolerance to morphine. Younger rats would become tolerant within days; older rats, it took weeks. This is the case with humans, too. So, Palmer's goal is to understand more about the opiate receptor pathway.

Palmer: And the more that's known about that pathway, the more we can analyze it with respect to race, gender, age, etc. and maybe find target molecules that we can target to allow these opiates to work better and work longer.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.