The Role of the Kappa Opioid Receptor in Regulating Cancer Proliferation in Vitro and In Vivo
Cancer can be extremely painful, and is often treated with opioid drugs such as morphine. However, this treatment is often inadequate, and has many adverse side effects. Moreover, the effects of opioids on disease progression are not clear.
A body of research has suggested that opioid agonists acting at the Mu Opioid Receptor (MOR) may alter disease progression including enhancing bone loss and promoting cancer metastasis and tumor growth, although these effects are controversial and need further study. Drugs that activate the Kappa Opioid Receptor (KOR) can also decrease pain in animal models. However, whether or not activation of the KOR promotes or inhibits cancer growth is mostly unknown. Before we can develop KOR drugs for the treatment of cancer pain, we need to determine the effects of KOR drugs on cancer growth and disease progression. We thus propose to test the effect of KOR activating drugs on the proliferation of multiple cancer cell lines in vitro as well as disease progression in vivo in mice.
The results of this research may thus provide 1) an additional drug target for the direct treatment of cancer and 2) whether KOR analgesic drugs may be an alternative, more effective treatment of cancer pain.