Researchers are stoked about a newly-found compound that resembles opioid relief effects, without the harming consequences that include addiction and possible death. Although scientists have only tested the compound on mice, it has promising outcomes.
Finding the compound was not an easy job, the team of researchers that includes Nobel-Price-Winner Brian Kobilka, had to evaluate over three million possibilities before getting the right one. Compound PZM21 was the result of the exhaustive investigation, but its results shocked scientists after discovering the drug was able to perform the same effects as morphine and opioids without the lethal side effects.
Finding the compound
For years the science world has tried to find a more healthy option for pain relief. According to The Independent, opiate addiction has shown deadly results since the 19th Century claiming the lives of thousands of patients. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of deaths due to overdose have quadrupled since 1999 just like the number of opioid sales.
Currently, the U.S is fighting an opioid-related crisis, and more lives have been claimed by the drug. Looking for a safer drug, researchers led by Dr. Aashish Manglik from Standford’s University School of Medicine have found the PZM21 compound, a drug that might be just what medicine needs.
To locate the compound, researchers analyzed what opioids do when in the body system. The standard drug acts by adding to a brain receptor that can reduce the pain, but it also touches a receptor that affects breathing and causes constipation.
The team of scientists decided to look for another compound that could activate the same brain receptor, without triggering breathing issues and avoid addiction in patients.
“An ideal opioid would kill pain without producing morphine’s respiratory effects and would not be addictive,” said biologist Brigitte Kieffer, in a report that accompanied the research.
When PZM21 was found over the other 3 million options found by their computer’s calculation, mice were put on a hot surface for a short period causing them to feel some pain.
Researchers then acted by providing PZM21 doses that would be the equivalent of the amount of morphine needed. Mice didn’t found the compound to be addictive since they didn’t seek for more medication.
Also, the animals didn’t become hyperactive like they do when on opioids.Other results showed the animals were less constipated than they tend to be when tested with opiates. Although the mice did show slow breathing after taking the medicine, their levels normalized after the effect was over.
In the end, results showed that mice had an 87% of pain relief under the compound which is an equivalent of the 92% relief that morphine provides, showing PZM21 could be the answer to non-addictive and harming opioids. The study findings were published in the journal Nature and so far have been well received by the science world. However, more investigations need to be made on compound PZM21 before human trials begin.