A newly discovered pain reliever drug that is surprisingly effective and non-addictive

More than 20 percent of people in the United States have chronic pain, and 7.4 percent of people have chronic pain that significantly affects their lives, according to the CDC. Image credit: Karynav / Shutterstock.com

Scientists have found a new non-addictive pain reliever that could prove to be a valuable alternative to opioid drugs like morphine and oxycodone, according to a recent study published in Nature Communications.

The promising compound is called benzyloxy-cyclopentyladenosine (or BnOCPA for short). By testing the drug on model systems such as frog hearts, rat brains, and human cells, the international team of researchers found that BnOCPA was shown to be non-addictive, potent, and selective in its analgesic effect.

In particular, it appears that the drug will not cause sedation, bradycardia, hypotension, or respiratory depression, which are common concerns with strong analgesics.

Many drugs work by interacting with proteins on the cell surface that activate adapter molecules called G proteins. However, problems can arise because activation of some G proteins can lead to other cellular effects. The beauty of BnOCPA is that it activates only one type of G protein, which leads to highly selective effects and reduces potential side effects.

This is a great example of chance in science. We weren’t expecting BnOCPA to behave differently from other molecules in its class, but the more we look at BnOCPA we discover properties we haven’t seen before, which may open up new areas in medicinal chemistry,” said Professor Bruno Fringili, the lead researcher on the project from the College of Life Sciences. University of Warwick, in a statement.

The drug has not yet been tested on a living, breathing human, but these results look promising. More than 20 percent of people in the United States have chronic pain, and 7.4 percent of people have chronic pain that significantly affects their lives, according to the CDC.

Medications, such as opioids often used to treat pain, can lead to nasty side effects, addiction, and overdose. Given the very obvious risks, the need for new, safe, and effective pain-relieving drugs is enormous.

Dr Mark Wall, Principal Investigator from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick added.

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