Chronic Pain Sufferers Will Have Non-Addictive Alternative
A study from Columbia Technology Ventures, who were studying combat injury-related depression, has found an alternative to opiates or anti-depressants for chronic pain, the chemical N60.
Pain is a feeling that is experienced in the brain, expressed when signals are sent along nerves in the peripheral nervous system (PNS). Researchers are just beginning to understand how pain works exactly and as they do, better options are being found.
Currently, chronic pain is treated with opiates or anti-depressants. There are downsides to each one of those. With opiates, you have the likelihood of addiction and tolerance. With the anti-depressants, there is tolerance as well. Tolerance is where a medication stops being as effective as the body becomes used to the medication in its system. In some cases, a sensitization also occurs (although less commonly) where a patient may become less tolerant to the medication and develops more severe adverse side-effects.
Researcher, professor of Pathology and Cell Biology at Columbia University Medical Center developed the N60 after the pathway was discovered by Dr. Ying-Ju Sung, Assistant Professor of Clinical Pathology. This pathway to the brain exists in the PNS and if left unaltered, the pathway continues to interfere with the electrical properties of the neuron resulting in chronic pain. However, the researchers found PKG, a protein in the pathway that can be used as switch to turn it off.
Since a protein would make an excellent target for medication, doctors developed a analgesic and called it N60. And because the pathway is in the PNS rather than the CNS (central nervous system), this means there’s less chance of developing an addiction or building up tolerance. Dr. Ambron has said “We found in PKG a well-defined target that has been implicated in several types of pain that are particularly refractory to treatment. Now, we have an excellent inhibitor of the target which imparts no evident toxic or behavioral side effects and which also alleviates chronic pain in animal models of nerve injury and inflammation. N60 is non-addictive and non-sedative, and a single dose attenuates pain for at least 24 hours.”
This is good news for chronic pain suffers, such as those with combat injuries, chronic arthritis, fibromyalgia, degenerative joint disease and the like where medications to treat the chronic pain has had mixed results. And the best news, is that it is non-addictive. As Dr. Ambron notes, addiction is “a problem that conveys a whole set of economic and social issues for our country and society at-large.” If this pain-blocker can work effectively without the resulting addiction, a whole subset of a population will be helped. People who have gone to the street to get more of their prescribed medication because they’ve built up a tolerance and/or become addicted, can now turn to N60 soon to get relief from chronic pain instead.