Researchers developing nonopioid drug for chronic pain

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.

Full story at Science Daily

Study upends conventional view of opioid mechanism of action

A new discovery shows that opioids used to treat pain, such as morphine and oxycodone, produce their effects by binding to receptors inside neurons, contrary to conventional wisdom that they acted only on the same surface receptors as endogenous opioids, which are produced naturally in the brain. However, when researchers funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) used a novel molecular probe to test that common assumption, they discovered that medically used opioids also bind to receptors that are not a target for the naturally occurring opioids. NIDA is part of the National Institutes of Health.

This difference between how medically used and naturally made opioids interact with nerve cells may help guide the design of pain relievers that do not produce addiction or other adverse effects produced by morphine and other opioid medicines.

Full story at drugabuse.gov

Prescription weight-loss medication helps with opiate addiction recovery, study confirms

Researchers from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have confirmed that a prescription weight-loss pill decreases the urge to use opiates such as oxycodone.

In a study published in ACS Chemical Neuroscience, the researchers led by UTMB scientist Kathryn Cunningham found that the drug, lorcaserin, reduced the use and craving for the opioid oxycodone in preclinical studies. Cunningham is director of UTMB’s Center for Addiction Research and a professor in the department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.

Opiate abuse is a major public health problem and according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of deaths from prescription opiate overdose in America has quadrupled since 1999. High relapse rates and too few people remaining in treatment programs long enough for it to really benefit them continues to pose major challenges in treatment for the misuse of prescription opiates such as oxycodone and illegal opiates such as heroin.

Full story of prescription weight loss medication and opiate addiction recovery at Science Daily

Heroin Tops the List of Drugs Most Frequently Involved in Overdose Deaths

Heroin was the drug most often involved in overdose deaths between 2010 and 2014, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other drugs commonly involved in overdoses included oxycodone, methadone, morphine, morphine, hydrocodone, fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine, alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium).

More than 47,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses in 2014, up from more than 38,000 in 2010.

Full story of heroin most involved in overdoses at drugfree.org

Nasal Spray Version of Naloxone Approved to Treat Opioid Overdoses

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday approved a nasal spray version of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone (Narcan). Until now, the only approved version of naloxone was injectable, The New York Times reports.

The company that makes the spray, Adapt Pharma, said it will offer the spray at a discount to emergency workers, police and firefighters.

Naloxone is used to reverse overdoses of opioids including prescription medications such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine, as well as heroin. The FDA noted in a press release that if naloxone is administered quickly, it can counter the effects of an opioid overdose, usually within two minutes.

Full story of nasal spray version of Naloxone at drugfree.org