In a new study from the University of Arizona, researchers are closer to developing a safe and effective non-opioid pain reliever.
They showed that a new compound they created reduces the sensation of pain by regulating a biological channel linked to pain.
Most people experience pain at some point in their lives, and the National Institutes of Health estimates 100 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain.
Approximately 21-29% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them and 8-12% of people using an opioid for chronic pain develop an opioid use disorder, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The biological mechanism at the heart of the research is NaV1.7, a sodium ion channel that previously was linked to the sensation of pain through genetic studies of people with rare pain disorders.
Because NaV1.7 is a human-validated target for pain, multiple attempts have tried to stop pain by using sodium ion channel inhibitors to block NaV1.7.
In the study, the team used a compound they developed and named 194 to successfully regulate NaV1.7 activation in the laboratory using nerve cells from four different species, including humans.
Researchers also found that compound 194 also may promote pain relief by activating the body’s endogenous, or naturally occurring, opioid system.
And 194 did so without causing motor performance issues, depressive behaviors or addiction.
Finally, the team observed a synergistic effect when 194 was combined with morphine and gabapentin.
This is a promising sign that 194 could also be used in a dose-reduction strategy for painkillers that have negative side effects, including opioids, while maintaining high levels of pain relief.
The team says it is an important step in optimizing the compound’s potential as a pain-relieving drug and advancing to the next stage, where researchers will file for Food and Drug Administration approval to begin clinical trials.
If you care about pain, please read studies about chronic pain may impact how your brain processes emotions and findings of more than half of Americans suffer from back pain and leg pain.
For more information about pain management, please see recent studies about pain relieving effects of CBD in marijuana and results showing that no pain, no gain in exercise for peripheral artery disease.
The study is published in Science Translational Medicine. One author of the study is Rajesh Khanna, Ph.D.
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