Pain Relief Eight Times More Effective Than Morphine
A groundbreaking treatment for pain that is eight times stronger than morphine has been discovered by scientists.
The revolutionary technique involves an injection that can combat serious discomfort for more than three days – 14 times as long as morphine.
The substance, which can be injected, appears to have few side effects and works by neutralising the chemical in the body that causes the brain to feel pain.
A team at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine have pinpointed the identity of a particular "pain protein" in nerve cells and have found a way of converting it from a substance that causes pain into ones that suppress it.
"This protein has the potential to be a groundbreaking treatment for pain," said lead study author Mark Zylka, assistant professor of cell and molecular physiology at UNC.
"We were really blown away that a simple injection could have such a potent effect on pain. Not only that, but it appeared to work much better than the commonly used drug morphine."
The study published in the journal Neuron involved injecting the protein prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP) into the spines of genetically modified mice who were in serious pain.
The new protein suppressed pain as effectively as morphine but for substantially longer. One dose of PAP lasted for up to three days, much longer than the five hours gained with a single dose of morphine.
When in distress, nerve cells release a chemical known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which in turn invokes a painful sensation. PAP converts the ATP into ademosine which actually suppresses pain.
"It is entirely possible that PAP itself could be used as a treatment for pain, through an injection just like morphine," Zylka said.
"But we would like to modify it to be taken in pill form. By taking this field in a new direction, we are encouraged and hopeful that we will be able to devise new treatments for pain."