Separating Side Effects Could Hold Key for Safer Opioids

Epidemic
NIH-funded scientists may have revealed brain functions in pre-clinical research that widen the safety margin for opioid pain relief without overdose Opioid pain relievers can be extremely effective in relieving pain, but can carry a high risk of addiction and ultimately overdose when breathing is suppressed and stops. Scientists have discovered a way to separate these two effects -- pain relief and breathing -- opening a window of opportunity to make effective pain medications without the risk of respiratory failure. The research, published today in Cell, was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health. Opioid medications suppress pain by binding to specific receptors (proteins) in the brain; these same receptors also produce respiratory suppression. However, the way these receptors act to regulate pain and breathing may be fundamentally different. Studies using mouse genetic models suggest that avoiding one particular signaling pathway...
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Study Finds that Heavy alcohol use in Teens Alters electrical Activity in the Brain

Study Finds that Heavy alcohol use in Teens Alters electrical Activity in the Brain
Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland studied the effects of long-term heavy alcohol use in adolescence and found it altered certain brain functions. The study, the first of its kind to analyze long-term effects of alcohol in adolescents, found that heavy alcohol use can alter the cortical excitability and functional connectivity in the adolescent brain. The research was part of the Adolescents and Alcohol Study. The changes in the brain occurred in otherwise healthy adolescents who were heavy alcohol users but did not fit the criteria for a substance abuse disorder. In a study published in Addiction Biology , researchers found that heavy alcohol use causes alterations in the electrical and chemical neurotransmission in study participants. Earlier studies have shown the detrimental effects of heavy alcohol use in adolescence alters the function of the GABA neurotransmission system and causes cortical thinning, all among adolescents who did not meet the...
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