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Opiate Epidemic Sparks Research By Top Scientists And Doctors

The opiate epidemic is affecting every mile of land in the United States. It is clear that these drugs have no boundaries and hit every type of person. It does not matter how much money you have, what race or religion or your age, these drugs are not bias. The overall power these drugs have at changing and even taking lives has created a great need to figure out ways to battle the epidemic.

The top minds in the United States have been working diligently to figure out ways to combat and put a dent in the epidemic that takes more lives per year than car accidents. Scientists at Tulane University and Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System have developed a painkiller that is as strong as morphine but lacks the addictive properties that all opioid medications have. This type of medication can be used to treat chronic and severe pain without the worst side effect of dependency or addiction. 

The project found that the new compound reduces or in some cases eliminates serious side effects that have been known by traditional opiate medications. These side effects that have been reduced and eliminated are respiratory depression, addiction/dependency, tolerance and coordination problems. Although these side effects have been eliminated, lead researcher Dr. James Zadina said his drug provides similar pain relief to morphine.

This compound can be a game changer for people who have been battling chronic pain and those that have substance abuse issues being able to relieve their pain without the fear of relapsing or becoming addicted to a medication. “The hope is somebody won’t have to risk addiction or just have to live with pain,” Zadina said.

So the main question is how does it work? In 1997, Zadina isolated a set of specific peptides, a small protein for the brain. Two of the peptides seemed effective at binding to pain relief centers in the brain so Zadina began changing the structure of the peptides till he found the perfect fit for pain relief capabilities which was an extremely exhaustive process. About 5 years ago Zadina began testing the effectiveness of the compound on rats. In two different tests, the overall likelihood was that the drug showed low characteristics of abuse in the rats as well as showed no development of tolerance to the compound.

Opiates are well-known to be tolerated by the body and brain quickly. Meaning that a person who takes opiates regularly will have to raise the dosage constantly to be able to achieve the pain relieving effects that are required for chronic pain. This develops a problem for patients because the higher the tolerance, the more dependent the patient becomes to the medication. With this new compound, no tolerance is developed and since the compound is taken from the human brain, it is not a foreign substance that the body will become accustomed to like in other opiate medications.

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