Pain reliever will take a whole new meaning thanks to some brilliant research conducted by a team of scientists from the University College of London. The scientists worked around the concept of pain way with a non-opioid painkiller, wanting to yield better result without disastrous side-effects.
For some time know, doctors have struggled with the idea of pain management. Traditional painkillers drugs include opioids, a class of substances that have the capacity to suppress pain-related channels. The downside of using opioids as a painkiller is that in time, the body develops a tolerance to them and higher doses are required in order to dull the pain. In term, by administering higher doses to a patient, it increases the chance of him becoming addicted to the substance.
Extensive lab work has revealed that the cure to pain resides within those special tiny channels, which allows electrical signals to pass from the cell membranes to the brain. If the “pain channels” are altered in any way, then an individual’s ability to fell pain would be suppressed.
The team of researchers focus their study on a rare genetic mutation that makes patients immune to pain. Better yet, patients who are born with this mutation don’t have the ability to sense pain. The team has discovered that the pain mechanism is intimately related to the Nav1.7 channel.
Also, the team discovered that people who lack the Nav 1.7 channels, due to a genetic aberration, have a higher level of opioid peptides. These substances are our personal painkillers. On an experiment involving lab mice, the doctors gave naloxone, an opioid blocker, to a mouse that lacked the Nav1.7 channel. As a result, the mouse started to feel pain again. Prompted by their outstanding result, the researcher wanted to try a more direct approach.
A human volunteer was enrolled. The patient was a 39-year-old woman who was born with the rare genetic mutation that made her immune to pain. After administering the naloxone, the woman was able to feel pain for the first time in her life.
Professor Wood, one of the scientists working on the project, said that this isn’t the first time someone has come up with the idea of using Nav1.7 suppressants in order to induce or reduce pain. But the initial result were very weak. However, extensive lab research proved that by using a Nav 1.7 blocker in combination with a low dose of opioid peptides, doctors will be able to successfully help those patients who were born with the rare genetic mutation. Furthermore, by using the data gathered during the research, pharmaceutical brands will now be able to fashion more efficient painkillers.