Opioid drug that comes with less side effects

Opioid addiction has remained a hot topic of discussion so far this year. Opioid is an addictive substance taken to relive pain. But those who take it gradually become addicted to the drug,whose intake beyond limit could be fatal. For decades, scientists have been trying to develop an opioid drug, whichnot just helps relieve pain, but alsoposes no side effect.Now, a scientist has developed one such drug.

In early 19th century, Morphine was introduced to control addiction to opium. That time, Codeine was considered as a non-addictive painkiller. There still are cases of addiction as all opioid drugs act similarly in the brain. They influence mu-opioid receptor, a neural receptor that manages pleasure, pain, relief and need.

However, there came hope with a discovery by Laura Bohn, a scientist who in 2000 found out something about a protein called beta-arrestin. This protein attaches with the opioid receptor when activated by an opioid drug such as morphine.

She realized while experimenting on mice that when morphine was given to mice that do not have beta-arrestin, the drug did relive pain, but without posing anyside effect. The mice experienced regular breathing, tolerance to the drug and had less withdrawal effects with certain doses.

"The hope is you'd have another molecule that looks like morphine and binds to the same receptor, but the way it turns the receptor on is slightly different", said Dr. AashishManglik, a researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine who studies opioid receptors.

A team of researchers, including Manglik, inspired by Bohn's discovery created a drug that could reduce side effects of beta-arrestin. The team ran 3 million possibilities through the computer and chose 23 best candidates to test in a lab. One chemical, PZM21, turned their imaginations into reality. It activated opioid receptor without influencing beta-arrestin. The finding is reported in Nature on Wednesday.

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