We are interested in neuroreceptor-operated processes in the general context of understanding excitotoxicity and the neurobiology of drugs of abuse. This analysis of receptor-mediated cellular actions requires a multidisciplinary approach, which we accomplish with the use of a variety of neurochemical and molecular methods, as well as key collaborations with medicinal and natural product chemists.
With regard to excitotoxicity, current research is directed towards understanding the mechanisms responsible for marine neurotoxin-induced cell death. These toxins influence glutamate receptor signaling in the central nervous system and promote the transition of glutamate from excitatory neurotransmitter to neurotoxin. Primary cultures of neurons are being used under conditions that permit glutamate toxicity to manifest in a physiologic milieu. This model system is being used to explore the mechanisms underlying the toxicity of marine neurotoxins that target voltage-gated sodium channels such as antillatoxin and brevetoxin.
In the area of drug abuse research, we are characterizing novel opioid peptides synthesized by a peptide chemist collaborator. The goal of this research is to develop novel agonist, antagonist and inverse agonist ligands for kappa opioid receptors.
To view publications by Thomas Murray, click here...