Researchers from the Virginia Tech School of Neuroscience are teaming with the University of California San Diego and the U.S. National Institutes of Health to develop a drug — now in its earliest stages — that can treat certain types of chronic pain without the addictive consequences of opioids.
The drug compound, known as ML351, was discovered by researchers from the NIH, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is designed to inhibit the naturally produced enzyme 15-Lipoxygenase-1, which synthesizes bioactive lipids that contribute directly to chronic pain not relieved by common over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. This lack of relief can lead patients to resort to more powerful drugs including opioids such as Oxycodone and other narcotics.
“Our goal is to demonstrate the preclinical efficacy of ML351 for chronic pain that does not respond to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and might otherwise be treated with opioids,” said Ann Gregus, a research scientist with the School of Neuroscience, who is working on the drug compound with Matt Buczynski, an assistant professor of neuroscience who specializes in drug addiction. The School of Neuroscience is part of the College of Science at Virginia Tech.
People who practice meditation often hail it as a fix for anything from anxiety to physical pain. Indeed, some studies suggest that it may improve our sense of well-being. Now, new research finds that one type of meditation — transcendental meditation — can relieve stress and boost emotional intelligence.
The practice of meditation does appear to bring many benefits, and recent studies have supported this idea.
For instance, meditators are less likely to experience cognitive decline, and practicing mindfulness techniques seems to reduce chronic pain.
Yale researchers have identified racial disparities in the treatment of patients who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain. Black patients who receive opioids long-term are more likely than whites to be tested for illicit drug use. Of those who test positive, blacks are more likely to have their opioid prescriptions discontinued, said the researchers.
More than 40% of opioid overdose deaths in the United States are attributed to prescription opioid painkillers such as Oxycontin and Percocet. Efforts to curb the crisis have focused in part on limiting opioid overprescribing. Less attention has been paid to how providers monitor and treat patients once opioids are initiated.
The Yale-led research team analyzed data from the electronic health records of more than 15,000 patients who received opioids from the Veterans Administration between 2000 and 2010. The researchers reviewed whether patients were screened for illicit drug use after starting opioids, which is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also looked at whether opioids were discontinued in those who tested positive for either marijuana or cocaine.
A large study stretching over a 4-year period challenges popular beliefs, as it finds “no evidence” that cannabis use improves the symptoms of chronic pain.
More and more people are taking prescription opioids for pain management, making the phenomenon “an emerging public health concern globally.”
Of all the countries in the world, North America has the “proportionally highest” use of prescription opioids.