Thu Dec 4 21:43:30 PST 2008



Sumatriptan, the molecule above, is a remarkably selective medicine. It binds to a certain receptor, on the smooth muscles which dilate to cause pressure on surrounding nerves, and rapidly reverses migraine headaches.

Other molecules, such as ergotamine, (which is related to LSD), are also capable of stopping the painful blood vessel dilation that causes migraines. However, these drugs affect blood vessels throughout the body. Such indiscriminate action can interfere with and even damage parts of the body that are functioning normally. Sumatriptan, with its targeted action, is a safer remedy.

Sumatriptan achieves this targeted action by binding to receptors in cranial blood vessels which are intended to interact with serotonin (the molecule shown below). You will see the similarity between serotonin and sumatriptan - they share a common core which is recognized by the receptor. Sumatriptan has been chemically tuned to bind strongly to the specific receptor found in cranial smooth muscle tissues and mimic the effect of serotonin.


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