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In a new study published in Nature Communications, researchers have discovered a new non-addictive painkiller that could be a safe alternative to opioid drugs such as oxycodone and morphine.
This new compound is named benzyloxy-cyclopentyladenosine (BnOCPA). Trying out the pharmaceutical on model systems like rat brains, frog hearts, and human cells, the scientists discovered that BnOCPA was potent, non-addictive, and very selective in its painkilling action.
Interestingly, the medicine wouldn’t cause sedation, hypotension, respiratory depression, or bradycardia, which are widespread symptoms with solid painkillers.
Most pharmaceuticals work by cooperating with proteins on the cell’s surface that trigger adapter molecules named G proteins.
Although, issues can surface as triggering specific G proteins may lead to other cellular side effects. The good thing about BnOCPA is that it activates only one type of G protein, leading to selective impacts and reducing side effects.
Professor Bruno Frenguelli, a researcher on the study from the University of Warwick’s School of Life Sciences, explained in a statement, “This is an outstanding example of fate in the sciences. We didn’t expect BnOCPA to behave differently than other molecules in that class. Nevertheless, the more we studied BnOCPA, we found properties that hadn’t been seen, which may open up new types of medicinal chemistry,”
The new drug is yet to be tested on humans, but the results seem promising. According to the CDC, over 20% of people in the United States have chronic pain and 7.4% of those experience chronic pain that drastically impacts their lives.
Drugs such as opioids, mainly used as painkillers, can lead to severe side effects, overdoses, and addiction. Given the horrible risks, the need for new, safer, potent painkilling pharmaceuticals is massive.
Dr. Mark Wall, the lead researcher from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick, stated, “The potency and selectivity of BnOCPA make it very unique, and there is hope that with further research, it can be possible to invent potent painkillers to treat people with chronic pain.”