Anesthesia Mechanism Discovered Heralding Future Advances

Real Simple Science

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Imperial College London have identified the site where the widely used anesthetic drug propofol binds to receptors in the brain to sedate patients during surgery.

The results are published in the prestigious journal Nature Chemical Biology.

Until now, it hasn’t been clear how propofol connects with brain cells to induce anesthesia. The researchers believe the findings, reported online in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, eventually will lead to the development of more effective anesthetics with fewer side effects.

“For many years, the mechanisms by which anesthetics act have remained elusive,” explained co-principal investigator Alex S. Evers, MD, the Henry E. Mallinckrodt Professor and head of the Department of Anesthesiology at Washington University. “We knew that intravenous anesthetics, like propofol, act on an important receptor on brain cells called the GABA-A receptor, but we didn’t really know exactly where they…

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