Medical

New non-addictive compound could treat pain and opioid abuse

New non-addictive compound cou...
A compound known as AT-121 has shown promise as a non-addictive form of pain relief and treatment for opioid abuse
A compound known as AT-121 has shown promise as a non-addictive form of pain relief and treatment for opioid abuse
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A compound known as AT-121 has shown promise as a non-addictive form of pain relief and treatment for opioid abuse
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A compound known as AT-121 has shown promise as a non-addictive form of pain relief and treatment for opioid abuse

With addiction to prescription painkillers a major part of the current opioid crisis in the US, the search for an effective but non-addictive pain medication is on in earnest. And researchers at Wake Forest School of Medicine appear to have found a likely candidate in the form of a chemical compound called AT-121. With promising results seen in non-human primates, hopes are high the compound will work just as well in people.

Unlike the current most effective prescription painkillers that only work on the mu opioid receptor, such as fentanyl and oxycodone, the researchers were looking for a compound that also works on the nociception receptor, which blocks the dependence-related side effects of opioids that target the mu opioid receptor.

"We developed AT-121 that combines both activities in an appropriate balance in one single molecule, which we think is a better pharmaceutical strategy than to have two drugs to be used in combination," says Mei-Chuan Ko, Ph.D., professor of physiology and pharmacology at the School of Medicine, part of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. "In addition, this compound also was effective at blocking abuse potential of prescription opioids, much like buprenorphine does for heroin, so we hope it could be used to treat pain and opioid abuse."

The researchers say that in testing with non-human primates, AT-121 provided pain relief equivalent to an opioid, but in a 100-time lower dose than morphine. The same dose also blunted the addictive effects of oxycodone. In addition to providing pain relief without the potential for abuse, the researchers say AT-121 didn't produce other common negative side-effects commonly associated with opioids, such as itchiness, respiratory depression, tolerance and dependence.

"Our data shows that targeting the nociceptin opioid receptor not only dialed down the addictive and other side-effects, it provided effective pain relief," says Ko. "The fact that this data was in nonhuman primates, a closely related species to humans, was also significant because it showed that compounds, such as AT-121, have the translational potential to be a viable opioid alternative or replacement for prescription opioids."

If all goes well in additional preclinical studies designed to collect more safety data, the team will apply to the FDA for approval to conduct clinical trials of the compound in people.

The team's study appears in Science Translational Medicine.

Source: Wake Forest School of Medicine

7 comments
zr2s10
I'm curious to see if this causes a high like opiates as well, or if it merely helps block pain. If there is no associated high, it would allow people to still do everyday tasks that the current drugs prevent. Also, even if it's not causing chemical dependency, you could still see people using it as a recreational drug. But at least it wouldn't cause quite as many problems if they weren't "getting the itch". I hope this pans out, the drug problem is out of control, creating dangerous situations, and wasting a TON of resources. We were at the ER one night, when a guy came in that had to brought back with Narcan. It was apparently his second time there THAT DAY. 30 minutes later, he walks out the door without paying a cent, laughing while wearing a hospital gown, and gets into a car with a bunch of other cracked out looking people, and drive down the road.
akarp
There is a plant called kratom. Its been used for thousands of years by millions of people. Kratom contains bioactive alkaloids (25+) that work synergistically together to support a variety of perceived benefits. It's time we start looking at nature, time we start using nature, not fighting it.
jimbo92107
Or you could try my delicious brownies.
guzmanchinky
This would be such a breakthrough. Fastrack this immediately.
ljaques
Sounds like a Godsend. I hope it pans out. Several friends and I would love to get true pain relief without the side-effects of so-called painkillers. Effective relief without any addiction or high would be =great=!
Rusty Harris
I was given a script for "opiods" back in the 90's for a root canal. Having worked as a 911 operator for years, I said no thanks! I don't like those, yes, they are a "miracle" drug, but too d*mn dangerous. I agree, they should go back to looking for NATURAL pain relievers instead of these cooked up chemicals that turn you into a whack-a-doodle!
EZ
Kratom isn't the only natural, non-addictive pain medicine. There's another good one called Wild Lettuce, aka. Opium Lettuce. Helps my back pain and helps me sleep better no hangover effect.