Penn Researchers Receive $8.6 Million Grant for Anesthesia Research

A research team led by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania will receive $8.6 million over the next five years through a renewed grant from the National Institutes of Health. The multidisciplinary, multi-institution project is working to unravel the mysteries of anesthesia. The team is comprised of top medicine, chemistry, and biology researchers at Penn Arts and Sciences, the Perelman School of Medicine, and others across the Philadelphia region and in Pittsburgh.

Although inhaled anesthetics are considered one of the most important medical advances of all time and are administered to over 200 million people per year worldwide, the processes through which individuals become anesthetized remain enigmatic.

The researchers working on this project have determined that the primary, beneficial effects of anesthesia are brought about by modulating the activity of specific proteins in the neuronal membrane. However, the exact proteins and how they are altered are still largely unknown, though this knowledge is critical to improving anesthesia drugs.

This multidisciplinary team has been collaborating for more than 14 years. In that time they have established that multiple protein targets contribute to the desired effect of anesthesia, and that within each target, multiple binding sites exist, each with different influences on the target. These complex, multilayered events are then integrated to produce the behavioral state of anesthesia.

Penn Arts and Sciences faculty working on the project are Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Natural Sciences J. Kent Blasie, and associate professors of chemistry William P. Dailey, and Ivan J. Dmochowski

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