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Potential New Therapy Identified For Opioid-Tolerant Patients

There is some exciting news on the forefront of scientific research this year in early 2015. Scientists for the Anesthesiology journal – American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) have been able to identify a specific compound that appears to show a role in the development of opioid tolerance.

The researchers are stating that by blocking or neutralising this compound, patients could take opiate-based pain-killing medication and not continually require increases in dosages, sometimes going up to both high and dangerous amounts. This would clearly be an amazing breakthrough if scientists could harness this new compound and deactivate it within the body.

We should always be cautious, however when we “discover” these newly identified compounds and their potential for change in the way a drug interaction occurs in our bodily systems. Remember, the body is very good at adapting and changing the way it metabolizes and interacts with drugs and medicines. Of course, that’s not to say that this new research is devoid of efficacy, it could be extremely promising and it is important to get the word out that progress is being made in the investigation and research of opioids and the finding of ways to mitigate their abuse and/or their unfortunate large doses required in chronic-pain patients.

Let’s look at the scientific component in a little more detail. Here is a detailed excerpt from the research article and it is both interesting and makes great logical sense:

"... Chih-Peng Lin, M.D., assistant professor, Department of Anesthesiology, National Taiwan University College of Medicine. "We found that CXCL1, a protein produced by spinal cord tissue, contributes to opioid tolerance. By neutralizing CXCL1 in patients, we might help solve the problem of opioid tolerance.

While there has been extensive research on animals and opioid tolerance, this was the first study to examine both human patients and rats. The researchers compared patients with cancer-related pain controlled by strong opioids such as morphine with age-matched control subjects without cancer who were not taking opioids. They found that in both cancer patients and rats, subjects regularly given opioids and deemed opioid tolerant had an increased concentration of CXCL1 compared to those not regularly administered opioids.

The rats were given additional CXCL1 in the space surrounding the spinal cord, which increased the rate of onset and severity of tolerance, providing further evidence that the protein contributes to tolerance. In a second phase of the study, the rats were administered a CXCL1 neutralizing or blocking agent that at least partially maintained the effectiveness of the opioid...”


  1. American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). (2015, February 17). Researchers discover potential new therapy for opioid tolerant patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 4, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150217083610.htm

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