In a new study, researchers have developed a new painkiller that could help patients recover fast without increasing pain sensitivity or risk of chronic pain.
The research was conducted by a team from Tulane University and the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System.
Previous research has shown that morphine and other opioid-based painkillers are very effective at treating pain initially.
But these drugs can make patients more sensitive to, which prolong their discomfort and increase risks of chronic pain.
In the current study, the team developed a new type of opioid as strong as morphine but isn’t addictive and causes fewer side effects.
In addition, it can accelerate recovery time from pain compared with morphine.
The team tested the novel opioid ZH853 on rats with inflammatory pain and pain after surgery.
They found that rats treated with morphine for a few days recovered more slowly than those given a placebo.
But the new drug unexpectedly accelerated recovery from the pain. In one group, the pain lasted 32 days with no treatment, 46 days after morphine and only 11 days after ZH853.
The researchers also tested pain sensitivity after injury. They found that with morphine treatment, the underlying pain can return after the injury has healed and contributed to chronic pain.
But with the new painkiller, this did not happen.
The team suggests that the finding is a breakthrough in drug development for pain management because it can prevent the transition from acute to chronic relapsing pain.
They hope to begin human clinical trials of the new drug within the next two years.
One author of the study is James Zadina, professor of medicine, pharmacology, and neuroscience.
The study is published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation.
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