A study published in Nature, experts identify a compound that could offer pain relief without risk of addiction. The research is an act to decrease the use of opiods which are highly addictive and can cause potentially fatal side effects.
For the study, researchers used a computer simulation of the brain to examine how the compounds work. Experts from University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany discovered the drug using a virtual model of the receptor in the brain that binds opioids.
Drug, “PZM21,” showed promising results in brain simulations tests (c) emergency-live.com
With this astounding technology, the team was able to simulate the interaction of 3 million different compounds with this receptor.
“We tried to look for molecules that would still bind to this 3-D structure, but are as far away from morphine and codeine as possible,” study coauthor Aashish Manglik of Stanford University told Shots.
In the simulations, Manglik and colleagues tested 23 promising candidates on mice and found that one drug that stood out among the rest. The drug, “PZM21,” triggered the same pain-blocking pathway as other opioids, but did not cause respiratory depression, constipation, or a euphoric high, which are some of the unwanted side effects of opioids.
No more opioids for you, ma'am
One interesting effect to mice is did not prefer the drug over salt water, which suggests it may not cause addiction.
Shoichet told Medical News Today
, “there are so many medical procedures we can do now because we know we can control the pain afterwards. But it's obviously dangerous too. People have been searching for a safer replacement for standard opioids for decades.”
The study is the most recent promising drug development to halt the growing opioid epidemic in the United States. Opioid painkiller overdoses were responsible for around 18,000 deaths in 2014, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Thus, the need for safe painkillers has grown urgent as the number of opioid abuse continue to rise in the US, as well as different parts of the world.