Morphine is a strong drug: it eases the pain, but it can also have severe side effects, as an overdose can lead to the death of the patient. Specialists are aware of that, so they designed a new product: a new painkiller that is as strong as morphine, but less dangerous when it comes to side effects.
The new painkiller has only been tested on mice so far, but scientists are confident about it. They also think it is a good alternative to classic morphine because it is not as addictive as the former, thus reducing the risk of side effects and death.
Unlike morphine, this new painkiller does not release dopamine and it doesn’t affect the breathing process; it only works on nerve cells responsible for perceiving pain, which it ameliorates.
The new painkiller doesn’t have a name yet, but the essential compound is called PZM21. This is the non-addictive substance that can cause relieve to so many people in pain. It can reduce pain up to 87%, which is quite similar to the effect of morphine, which is 92%.
The researcher in charge of the study is Brian Shoichet (University of California, San Francisco). He talks about how dopamine and morphine are related:
“The dopamine circuit is one of the primary reward circuits in the brain, and its over-activation leads to repeated seeking of the reward stimulus – in this case, morphine (or related opioids). This ultimately becomes addiction. Early animal results suggest the new compound does not stimulate the dopaminergic circuit.”
If the new painkiller works on people too and gets to be authorized, it could be one of the best alternatives there are to morphine, as approximately 15 million people in the world are addictive to painkillers and opiates, with thousands of people dying because of it. Morphine, oxycodone, oxycontin, codeine, hydrocodone and fentanyl are considered to be opiates, not to mention heroin. Officials announced that the rate of selling these products is four times bigger than it was 15 years ago.
Researchers are aware of the fact that medication which seems to work on mice doesn’t always prove as effective on humans, but they hope for the best. The new painkiller has all odds of becoming the next medical breakthrough.
Image courtesy of: Wikipedia