Heroin: now with all the pain relief, and none of the addiction.
That’s the tempting pitch made by a team from the University of Adelaide and University of Colorado, who’ve come up with a way to block opioid addiction in the brain:
Laboratory studies have shown that the drug (+)-naloxone will selectively block the immune-addiction response.
The results – which could eventually lead to new co-formulated drugs that assist patients with severe pain, as well as helping heroin users to kick the habit – will be published tomorrow in the Journal of Neuroscience.
“Our studies have shown conclusively that we can block addiction via the immune system of the brain, without targeting the brain’s wiring,” says the lead author of the study, Dr Mark Hutchinson, ARC Research Fellow in the University of Adelaide’s School of Medical Sciences.
“The drug (+)-naloxone automatically shuts down the addiction. It shuts down the need to take opioids, it cuts out behaviours associated with addiction, and the neurochemistry in the brain changes – dopamine, which is the chemical important for providing that sense of ‘reward’ from the drug, is no longer produced.”