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Scientists design a drug that relieves pain like an opioid without some of the dangerous side effects...

Stashed in: Awesome, Stanford, Drugs!, Opioids

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There's a big opportunity to create opioid alternatives.

Investigators at the Stanford University School of Medicine and their collaborators at three other institutions have identified a novel compound that appears to exhibit painkilling power comparable to morphine but lacks that drug's most lethal property: respiratory suppression, which results in some 30,000 drug overdose deaths annually in the United States.

"This promising drug candidate was identified through an intensively cross-disciplinary, cross-continental combination of computer-based drug screening, medicinal chemistry, intuition and extensive preclinical testing," said Brian Kobilka, MD, professor of molecular and cellular physiology, and one of the senior investigators involved in the research.

Scientists at the University of California-San Francisco, the University of North Carolina and the Friedrich Alexander University in Erlangen, Germany, were also pivotal to the work, described in a study to be published Aug. 17 in Nature.

Kobilka credited Aashish Manglik, MD, PhD, a recent graduate of Stanford's Medical Scientist Training Program, as driving the study from the Stanford side. Manglik is one of the study's three co-lead authors.

The new compound's potential is enhanced by promising early signs, in mouse studies, that it may be less addictive than morphine and related drugs. While this reduced addiction potential remains to be demonstrated definitively in other animal studies, it's strongly suggested by, among other things, the experimental mice's indifferent attitude toward solutions containing the compound compared with otherwise identical solutions lacking it.

Reddit comment:

This is your daily reminder that heroin was also promoted as a less-addictive opioid with fewer side effects. I'll believe it when I see it.

So was Vicodin, so was Oxycontin. Every opioid is stronger than the last and more purely addictive. Also causes horrible constipation. Just sayin'

So if a scientist invents an opioid that does not cause constipation it will be even more addictive?

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