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Repurposing Antibiotics to Fight Neuropathic Pain

3 Old Medications Working Together to Tackle Pain

In an article in the PNAS journal, researchers report the power of 3 antibiotics against chronic pain, possibly reducing the need for opioids. The study abstract reports that “demeclocycline, chlortetracycline, and minocycline can be repurposed for treatment of neuropathic pain and potentially for other indications that would benefit from inhibition of EphB1 [a major mediator of neuropathic pain] receptor kinase activity.” When administered together, those antibiotics, which are 3 decades old, block nerve damage pain. Injections into mouse models of neuropathic pain “significantly blunted reactions to painful stimuli such as heat or pressure, with the triplet achieving a greater effect at lower doses than each drug individually.” The next stage of research would be human studies.

Use of these medications could be an alternative to opioids. “Unless we find alternatives to opioids for chronic pain, we will continue to see a spiral in the opioid epidemic,” commented study leader Enas S. Kandil, MD, associate professor of anesthesiology and pain management at UT South Western. “This study shows what can happen if you bring together scientists and physicians with different experience from different backgrounds. We’re opening the window to something new.”

 

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