One of the biggest issues with painkillers is that these drugs are necessary to treat severe and chronic pain, but they also have a very high addiction potential a well. That may change in the future though, as new painkiller medications become available that do not have the potential for abuse and addiction that this class of drugs has right now. Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans researchers are performing tests to determine whether a new medication will relieve pain similar to morphine but without the addiction potential and the negative side effects that morphine and other powerful opioid drugs can cause. The tests are being performed on endomorphin analogs that have been engineered in order to lower the risk of abuse and addiction with pain medications. The tests were performed on rats in the lab.
According to Tulane University School of Medicine medicine, pharmacology and neuroscience professor James Zadina explained “These side effects were absent or reduced with the new drug. It’s unprecedented for a peptide (a short chain of amino acid monomers which link other substances) to deliver such powerful pain relief with so few side effects. The research team hopes to begin human clinical trials of the new endomorphin within the next two years.” When rats were provided with a lever to obtain more of the drug being delivered the rats would use the lever that dispensed morphine, but they would not seek additional doses of the new endomorphin analogs. These new pain medications show great promise in helping to combat the opioid abuse and addiction epidemic that many countries are currently facing.