[dropcap]N[/dropcap]EW YORK – Scientists have developed a new peptide-based powerful painkiller that is as strong as morphine but has fewer side effects and is not addictive.
Using rats, scientists compared several engineered variants of the neuro-chemical endo-morphin found naturally in the body to morphine to measure their effectiveness and side effects.
The peptide-based drugs target the same pain-relieving opioid receptor as morphine, according to scientists at Tulane University and Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System in US.
Opium-based drugs are the leading treatments for severe and chronic pain, but they can be addictive. Their abuse results in thousands of overdose deaths annually, researchers said. They can cause motor impairment and potentially fatal respiratory depression.
Patients also build up tolerance over time, increasing the risk for abuse and overdose.
“These side effects were absent or reduced with the new drug,” said lead investigator James Zadina, professor at the Tulane University School of Medicine.