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  • Posted by laundrug |
  • on Sep 29, 2018

Scientists develop new opioid painkiller that could help prevent lethal overdoses

A new model for developing painkillers could help cut opioid related overdoses, which killed around 2,000 people in the UK last year and which account for the deaths of 91 people every day in the states. Research published in the journal Cell on Thursday demonstrates it is possible to develop opioids which relieve pain as effectively as morphine but without stopping or slowing breathing. There were 3,744 drug poisonings in the UK in 2016 and 2,038 involved an opiate, most commonly heroin or morphine, Office for National Statistics figures show. But in America prescription opioid addiction has devastated communities and left hundreds of thousands dead, with Donald Trump declaring it a public health emergency earlier this year. The crisis in America has spiralled since the 1990s with overprescribing of addictive medications, high levels of chronic pain, and an influx of potent synthetic opioids, like fentanyl. Fentanyl is usually used to relieve pain in terminally ill patients and, at a strength 100 times that of heroin, is a growing cause of deaths in the UK. Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute, Florida, have spent two decades looking at ways of unlinking opioids' effects on two pathways - the “G protein” pathway, which is thought to mediate pain-relief and the “beta-arrestin2” pathway, which is linked to breathing suppression. In the last six years they have developed 500 potential new painkiller drugs compounds, 60 of which impact more on one or the other pathway. In this group they identified key drugs, all of which were able to be absorbed to the brain, and were all as potent as morphine “if not more so”, but some of which only impacted one pathway. The crisis in America has spiralled since the 1990s with overprescribing of addictive medications, high levels of chronic pain, and an influx of potent synthetic opioids, like fentanyl. Fentanyl is usually used to relieve pain