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McLean researchers

Medicinal Chemistry Laboratory

The Medicinal Chemistry Laboratory, part of the Medication Development Program, was founded in 1998. Our research focuses on launching new medicines in a variety of specialties.

Recently developments include a medication to block the release of dopamine, a “feel good” brain chemical, which potentially reduces drug cravings in cocaine dependency. As a treatment for Parkinson’s disease which is caused by a deficiency of dopamine, our scientists are working to develop effective oral medications that act like dopamine yet do not have serious side effects. Our template for drug design is apomorphine (a molecule synthesized from morphine), which incorporates dopamine in its structure.

In addition, we create imaging compounds for brain scans—techniques that are rapidly expanding the reach of medical and scientific research. By “labeling” apomorphine and analogues with radioisotopes that are visible in brain images, we help clinicians diagnose certain conditions earlier and monitor the effectiveness of treatments.

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