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Personal profile

Research interests

I use medicinal chemistry to develop a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying neuropsychological diseases, in particular drug abuse, but also including depression and anxiety. To this end, both highly selective ligands and, more recently, ligands targeted at multiple receptors are designed and synthesized, along with specific pharmacological tools such as irreversible and radiolabeled ligands which allow us to study changes in the chemistry of the brain. Manipulation of the duration of activity of ligands has also been a theme within recent years. I am also interested in the therapeutic potential of such compounds, in particular the group is continuing to study, with the help of funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the utility of opioid ligands as treatment agents for opioid, cocaine and other drugs of abuse and the use of opioid ligands in the treatment of depression. The most important work within the group has been towards ‘selectively promiscuous’ ligands and has been driven by the realisation that CNS disorders are rarely simple, requiring complex solutions. Particular success, and impact, has been achieved in delineating the molecular descriptors that are crucial to the unique pharmacological profile displayed by the opioid treatment agent buprenorphine. This work has allowed us to develop ligands that target multiple opioid receptors simultaneously, with some control over efficacy at each receptor. Current targets include the mu, kappa and NOP opioid receptors and, separately, Regulators of G protein Signaling (RGS) proteins. All our work is carried out in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Bath, the University of Michigan, Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, Imperial College and the University of Bristol. Current and recent funding for our work has come from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Medical Research Council and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Strathclyde


  • QD Chemistry
  • Opioid
  • medicinal chemistry
  • chemical biology
  • CNS
  • cystic fibrosis

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Stephen Husbands is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 5 Similar Profiles
mu Opioid Receptor Medicine & Life Sciences
Buprenorphine Medicine & Life Sciences
kappa Opioid Receptor Medicine & Life Sciences
Ligands Medicine & Life Sciences
Opioid Analgesics Medicine & Life Sciences
Narcotic Antagonists Medicine & Life Sciences
Opioid Receptors Medicine & Life Sciences
Naltrexone Medicine & Life Sciences

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Projects 2007 2020

Research Output 2001 2019

Synthetic Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists Detection using Fluorescence Spectral Fingerprinting

May, B., Naqi, H., Tipping, M., Scott, J., Husbands, S., Blagbrough, I. & Pudney, C., 15 Oct 2019, In : Analytical Chemistry. 91, 20, p. 12971-12979 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
6 Citations (Scopus)
103 Downloads (Pure)
Open Access
10 Citations (Scopus)
76 Downloads (Pure)

C7β-Methyl Analogues of the Orvinols: The Discovery of Kappa Opioid Antagonists with Nociceptin/Orphanin FQ Peptide (NOP) Receptor Partial Agonism and Low, or Zero, Efficacy at Mu Opioid Receptors

Cueva, J. P., Roche, C., Ostovar, M., Kumar, V., Clark, M. J., Hillhouse, T. M., Lewis, J. W., Traynor, J. R. & Husbands, S. M., 28 May 2015, In : Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. 58, 10, p. 4242-4249 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Peptide Receptors
Narcotic Antagonists
mu Opioid Receptor
Opioid Analgesics
32 Citations (Scopus)
100 Downloads (Pure)

Combined administration of buprenorphine and naltrexone produces antidepressant-like effects in mice

Almatroudi, A., Husbands, S. M., Bailey, C. P. & Bailey, S. J., 1 Jul 2015, In : Journal of Psychopharmacology . 29, 7, p. 812-821 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Antidepressive Agents
kappa Opioid Receptor
Opiate Alkaloids

Meet our editorial board member

Husbands, S., 1 Aug 2015, In : Mini-Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry. 15, 10, p. 797 1 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A Single Compound Alternative to a Buprenorphine/Naltrexone Combination

Author: Ridzwan, I. E., 31 Jul 2012

Supervisor: Husbands, S. (Supervisor) & Bailey, C. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Does the combination of buprenorphine/naltrexone have antidepressant efficacy in animal models?

Author: Almatroudi, A., 11 Jan 2016

Supervisor: Bailey, S. (Supervisor), Bailey, C. (Supervisor) & Husbands, S. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Formulation performance in paediatric patients - in vitro predictive models and biowaivers

Author: Martir, J., 4 Sep 2019

Supervisor: Fotaki, N. (Supervisor) & Husbands, S. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD

Impurity profiling of illicit drugs

Author: Alotaibi, M. R. M., 26 Apr 2017

Supervisor: Blagbrough, I. (Supervisor) & Husbands, S. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


New antagonists for the Kappa Opioid receptor

Author: Pillinger, K., 1 Jun 2009

Supervisor: Husbands, S. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD