Scientists discover that experimental "nano-analgesic" is more effective than morphine but low risk of addiction
- Under the effect of opioid addiction, more than 70,000 Americans died from a drug overdose in 2017
- Many experts accuse the prescribed painkillers of having begun the epidemic
- But 1.5 billion people in the world are living with chronic pain – and there is no treatment option as effective as opioids.
- Researchers at the University of Delaware and France have redesigned an existing compound in the body to treat pain with a lower risk of dependence in rats
Natalie Rahhal Assistant Health Editor for Dailymail.com
According to a new study, scientists believe that an experimental solution of "nano-analgesic" could be a safer and non-addictive alternative to drugs that fuel the current opioid crisis.
Collaborating researchers from the Universities of Delaware and Paris-Saclay in France administered their innovative drug to painful and inflamed feet.
The animals appeared to have less pain, but showed no signs of dangerous side effects, namely addictive, associated with opioid analgesics.
In 2017, 70,237 Americans died from an overdose of drugs attributable to the epidemic. But 1.5 billion people in the world suffer from chronic pain that can make every day unbearable.
We desperately need safer ways to treat pain – and the international team of scientists hopes to find a way to do it.
Scientists have redesigned a peptide in our body to treat pain longer than morphine, but without the highly addictive qualities of opioid analgesics (photo, file).
Purdue Pharmaceuticals' OxyContin drug has probably become the star product partly because it is highly addictive, but also because it has worked.
But the balance is leaning rapidly for the Americans' perception of the drug. It may be more harm than good.
This change does not bode well for people who really need pain relief. Yet, until now, few treatments, including anti-inflammatory drugs and cannabis, have proven sufficient.
The race is launched to create the new generation of pain relievers, without addiction.
Opioids bind to the corresponding receptors to signal the dull pain and activate the reward and pleasure system of the brain.
But there are also natural compounds in the body that act on these receptors, including a small peptide called enkephalin.
We know of four different opioid receptor systems – the Mu, Delta, Kappan and Like-1 receptors.
Current opioid drugs such as OxyContin bind to Mu receptors.
But enkaphalin peptides are compatible with Delta systems.
Enkaphalin alone is struggling to cross the blood-brain barrier, a deficiency that also effectively mitigates its attenuating pain.
For example, Dr. Feng Jiao, an engineer in chemistry and biomedicine at the University of Delaware and his colleagues in France, redesigned enkaphaline with nanoparticles – tiny particles that scientists are increasingly using to ensure that drugs are safe. delivered as efficiently as possible to the targets.
The researchers fused the peptide and the nanoparticles that make the new association more "attracted" by the source of pain and could move better in the body thanks to their dissolution in a natural fat of biological type.
When they administered the new intravenous drug to the rats, the animals appeared to become less sensitive to pain, as evidenced by their reactions when the heat was applied near the tender and swollen paws.
In addition, the effects of nano-analgesics seemed to last longer than those of morphine, the researchers reported.
As the drug was acting on more peripheral opioid receptors, it presents less risk of dependence.
If the nano-painter has similar effects and is also safe for humans, it could be a promising option for the future of pain management.