A new drug engineered by scientists at Tulane University is a version of naturally occurring endomorphin. It targets the same pain-relieving opioid receptor as morphine. Rats were treated with endomorphin or morphine. Pain relief with endomorphin was greater than or equal to pain relief with morphine, but without the side effects of impaired motor skills and respiratory depression.
In addition, treatment with endomorphin did not induce addictive behavior.
According to lead researcher James Zadina, "It's unprecedented for a peptide to deliver such powerful pain relief with so few side effects." Zadina is professor of medicine, pharmacology and neuroscience at Tulane University School of Medicine. Clinical trials on humans should start within 2 years.
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