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A Pain Medication as Potent as Morphine without the Risk of Dependence?


The need for prescription opiate medication (pain medication), such as morphine, may arise for just about anyone.  For most, it serves it purpose post-surgery or post-injury, but for some it is the start to addiction and dependence, and for others, specifically addicts in recovery, it can be the cause of a terrible period of relapse.  Some addicts in recovery, so afraid of the potential danger in opiate therapy, harrowingly opt to treat severe pain post-surgery or after an accident with non-narcotic, less effective treatments like ibuprofen.

A new study funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse published in the July 2013 journal of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) reports that an effective alternative to powerful, yet addicting, opiate medication may have been discovered in a drug that targets a protein complex containing two different types of opioid receptors, mu and delta, without any of the negative side effects or risk of dependence, according to research led by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

The mu and delta opioid receptors are thought to be the responsible receptors for the pain-relief, CNS depression, dependence and tolerance effects of opiate medication. Morphine was the first drug shown to bind to mu receptors, and is still the most widely-used pain reliever in people with severe pain, although it can often lead to dependence, or addiction, as well as other negative side effects such as respiratory issues, diarrhea and constipation. 

Researchers have discovered that the compound they’ve named CYM51010 is as potent as morphine, and works similarly on the mu and delta receptors, but is not as likely to result in tolerance and negative side effects (Mount Sinai). 

While this research is still in the study phase, leading researcher Dr. Lakshmi Devi, Professor of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics at Mount Sinai, and her team are currently working to learn more about how CYM51010 binds to the protein complex.  They are hopeful that with the knowledge they find they will be able to modify the compound in a way that it will remain as powerful of a pain reliever without the development of dependency. 


Works Cited:

Lees, Kathleen. “Protein Complex May Be Alternative to Opioid Pain Relievers.” Science World Report, 15 July 2013.  Web. 17 July 2013. 

Mount Sinai Hospital. “Chemical Compound Shows Promise as Alternative to Opioid Pain Relievers.” Mount Sinai, 1 July 2013. Web. 17 July 2013. 

“How does the opioid system work?” News Medical, 15 October 2007. Web. 17 July 2013.


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Melanie is a 27-year old Southern California native who studied at Pepperdine University. Loving to travel and experience new places and cultures, she spent two years living in the Southern states of Texas and Tennessee before returning to Los Angeles where she began working in the legal industry writing content and managing communication to class members of class action lawsuits. She now is focused on her continued sobriety, and her motto in life is to never take herself too seriously. She is often described by others as an "old soul." She loves music, photography, and makeup artistry and likes to entertain herself with astrology and numerology. She is a Sagittarius and a number 9, and shares her birthday with her beloved late grandmother and her favorite author, C.S. Lewis.

Filed under: Latest News, Substance Abuse · Tags: abuse, Addiction, CYM51010, dependence, Drug Abuse, drug study, Icahn, medication, medicine, morphine, Mount Sinai Hospital, narcotics, NIDA, opiate, Pain, pain medication, Pain relief, pain relievers, Pharmaceuticals, pharmacology, prescriptions

  • Michele Lavigne

    Thanks alot for sharing this informative post. I am sure alot of readers will get help and use this blog as a useful resource.

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