Specialized compound could lead to chronic pain relief without the use of opioids

March 14, 2017 by Curt Slyder, Purdue University
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Purdue researchers have discovered a compound that could lead to the treatment of chronic pain without the need for patients to rely on opioids.

A team led by Val Watts, associate head and professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology in Purdue's College of Pharmacy, said the compound shows unparalleled selectivity in inhibiting the 1 (AC1).

Adenylyl cyclases are enzymes that organize the production of cyclic adenosine monophosphate, an important biological messenger in numerous organisms. There are 10 isoforms of adenylyl cyclases found in humans. Numerous studies have suggested that AC1 could be used as a drug target for .

The compound identified at Purdue has shown selectivity for inhibiting AC1 versus the other nine isoforms.

"With the AC1 technology, there's a chance to treat chronic pain directly or through reducing the side effects of the opioids," said team member Richard van Rijn, assistant professor of and in Purdue's College of Pharmacy. "There's an issue with misuse of opioids used to treat chronic pain. They are good as a short-term analgesic for , but don't address the underlying issues of chronic pain."

Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin as well as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others. They interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain and nervous system to produce pleasurable effects and relieve pain.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose deaths involving have quadrupled since 1999. From 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 people have died in the United States from overdoses related to prescription opioids.

The Watts group is the first to identify a compound that is selective for AC1 only.

Findings from the study are published in a research paper by Watts' group that recently appeared in Science Signaling. There is also a recent news feature about the research in Science.

While the research is still in its early stages, another potential application for the compound is the possibility of reducing opioid dependence. Separate research has shown that completely deleting the AC1 enzyme reduces the signs of dependence.

"If you decrease the physical symptoms of withdrawal, that could help reduce psychological dependence," Watts said. "You might also be able to stop relapse."

Explore further: Physical therapy is best choice for pain management

More information: Tarsis F. Brust et al. Identification of a selective small-molecule inhibitor of type 1 adenylyl cyclase activity with analgesic properties, Science Signaling (2017). DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aah5381

Related Stories

Physical therapy is best choice for pain management

August 29, 2016
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sales of prescription opioids have quadrupled in the United States since 1999, even though there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain reported.

Key signaling protein associated with addiction controls the actions of oxycodone on pain

January 17, 2017
RGS9-2, a key signaling protein in the brain known to play a critical role in the development of addiction-related behaviors, acts as a positive modulator of oxycodone reward in both pain-free and chronic pain states, according ...

DEA puts quota on production of opioid painkillers

October 6, 2016
(HealthDay)—The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says it has mandated significant cuts in the production of powerful prescription opioid painkillers.

Opioids produce analgesia via immune cells

January 17, 2017
Opioids are the most powerful painkillers. Researchers at the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin have now found that the analgesic effects of opioids are not exclusively mediated by opioid receptors in the brain, but ...

Despite opioid concerns, seniors often exit the hospital with prescription, study says

July 19, 2016
It's a common scenario: Someone checks into a hospital for surgery or an illness and leaves with a prescription for an opioid painkiller, opening the door to long-term use and dependence. A recent study examined this pattern ...

Recommended for you

Opioid addiction treatment behind bars reduced post-incarceration overdose deaths in RI

February 14, 2018
A treatment program for opioid addiction launched by the Rhode Island Department of Corrections was associated with a significant drop in post-incarceration drug overdose deaths and contributed to an overall drop in overdose ...

Heroin vaccine blocks lethal overdose

February 14, 2018
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have achieved a major milestone toward designing a safe and effective vaccine to both treat heroin addiction and block lethal overdose of the drug. Their research, published ...

Study shows NIH spent >$100 billion on basic science for new medicines

February 12, 2018
Federally funded research contributed to the science underlying all new medicines approved by the FDA over the past six years, according to a new study by Bentley University.

Opioid use increases risk of serious infections

February 12, 2018
Opioid users have a significantly increased risk of infections severe enough to require treatment at the hospital, such as pneumonia and meningitis, as compared to people who don't use opioids.

Placebo pills prescribed honestly help cancer survivors manage symptoms

February 9, 2018
Long after cancer treatment ends, many continue to deal with one particular symptom that refuses to go away: fatigue. In a new study, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Harvard Medical School have ...

Multinational companies continue to produce unregulated antibiotics in India

February 5, 2018
Millions of unapproved antibiotics are being sold in India, according to a new study by researchers at Queen Mary University of London and Newcastle University.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.