One of the biggest problems with opioids is that they’re very good at relieving pain, but also very good at triggering our pleasure centers. Hence, addiction, ruined lives, Bayer creating heroin, grannies selling their drugs for rent money, etc. Doctors have to strike a careful balance and often it creates serious problems with pain management since you can’t use addicting drugs to manage chronic pain.
But if new research pans out, soon we’ll be able to make opioids that make the pain go away, but don’t bad-touch our pleasure centers.
Researchers at the University of Adelaide found an immune receptor, TLR-4, that amplifies reward when opioids bind to it. In other words it’s a pleasure knob that gets cranked to 11.
They also found that you can disable this receptor and it won’t stop the morphine from doing its job.
In short, human trials need to be done, but the University of Adelaide may have just allowed chronic pain sufferers access to more effective treatments. Good job, Australia, have a beer on us!
image courtesy Wikimedia Commons