Can a Different Type of Pain Medication Solve the Opioid Crisis?

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Manusapon Kasosod

If you’re among the 50 million Americans suffering from chronic pain, you know all too well how a sharp jab in your back or ache in your knee is more than an inconvenience—it affects your everyday life. Despite the marvels of modern medicine, treating it remains challenging due to the complexity of chronic pain and how it’s unique to each sufferer. Yet searching for new and safe painkillers is especially important given the toll of the ongoing opioid crisis.

Fortunately, scientists may have found the pain-relieving golden goose, according to a new study published Tuesday in the journal Science. Researchers at the University of São Paulo in Brazil have created a promising new drug that targets a pathway in the human body that triggers pain sensations. The drug, named TAT-pQYP, provided relief to mice suffering from inflammatory pain, and it may one day be the answer for many different kinds of chronic pain.

There can be a whole host of medical conditions behind pain like disease or physical injury, but the biological reason for those unpleasant twinges is nociceptors, or sensory neurons that detect damage in skin, muscle, bones, and other internal organs. When a nociceptor senses trauma—like when you scald your hand with a hot cup of coffee—it sends the information to the brain and spinal cord for further processing. In the case of burning your hand, as long as the injury isn’t severe and you received timely medical treatment, the raw burning sensation tends to go away on its own. But in some conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, or serious physical trauma, the pain might not go away. This could be because the nociceptors are kept active by chemical signals like inflammation or there is some sort of damage to the nervous system.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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