Robert F. Bukaty/AP

Scientists have discovered that a receptor in the body that THC binds to is malleable, re-igniting the possibility of drugs that mimic cannabis, Wired reported.

Why this matters: Researchers have long sought to develop chemicals that offer the benefits of marijuana, such as pain relief and anti-nausea, without the unwanted side effects of getting high.

How it works: When someone smokes, THC binds to CB1 receptors on the surface of cells in the brain, liver, lungs and elsewhere in the body. This interaction causes the cells to release chemical signals that lead to the typical side effects of smoking like hunger, anxiety, and euphoria, for example. Previous years of research suggested that CB1 receptors only responded to a specific chemical, like a lock and key.

The new discovery: Alexandros Makriyannis, director of Northeastern University's Center for Drug Discovery, along with a team of researchers from China, California, and Florida used X-ray crystallography to see the interaction between the receptor and compounds similar to THC. They found when THC-like molecules went into the receptor, it twisted to fit around the molecule and shrunk down to about half of its original size. Rather than react in a single, specified manner to cannabinoids, the receptors are flexible. "We want to make compounds that will modify the receptor differently, so we can make better drugs," Makriyannis told Wired.

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Florida fully lifts coronavirus restrictions on restaurants

Photo: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Friday the state will completely reopen its economy, allowing restaurants at operate full capacity and barring localities from ordering businesses to close.

Why it matters: The state became one of the world's epicenters for the virus in July, forcing DeSantis to pause its first round of reopening.

1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Eyeing the end of gas-powered cars

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Gasoline-powered cars may be going the way of the woolly mammoth, even if it will take decades to replace them and seems hard to fathom today.

The big picture: Internal combustion engines (ICEs) have powered automobiles for more than 100 years. But the shift to electric vehicles, slow to materialize at first, is now accelerating due to tightening government policies, falling costs and a societal reckoning about climate change.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tests positive for coronavirus

Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and his wife, Pamela, both tested positive for coronavirus, his office announced on Friday.

The state of play: The Northams were tested after one of their staff "who works closely within the couple's living quarters" tested positive. The governor is asymptomatic, while his wife is "experiencing mild symptoms." They plan to isolate at home for 10 days.

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