Scientists: Pain reliever 'breakthrough' could replace opioids - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Scientists: Pain reliever 'breakthrough' could replace opioids

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(KXAN) As law enforcement agencies and community groups look for solutions to the escalating abuse of opioids in the United States, they may find an answer in the hands of a few University of Texas at Austin scientists.

KXAN reports Stephen Martin and James Sahn say their team has discovered a powerful new pain reliever that works in a previously unknown pathway of the brain.

Opioid use has been a "national crisis" for a few years in the United States. A month ago, President Donald Trump declared it a "national emergency."

Martin, a chemistry professor at UT, explained that nearly a decade ago his lab discovered a class of molecules which bind very tightly to sigma receptors.

"And these receptors that we stumbled into really were receptors that weren't a subject of great interest in the pharmaceutical industry, we decided better than to compete with the pharmaceutical industry, we might play on the sidelines where they didn't have a keen interest," Martin says.

He added that the drug they created which binds to these receptors also shows the potential to impact things like Alzheimer's, traumatic brain injury, and alcohol abuse disorders. 

The synthetic compound is called UKH-1114. Researchers say the process determining whether or not the substance is addictive can take up to five to 10 years. 

Read more on the story here.

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