Pain reliever breakthrough at University of Texas could replace opioids
AUSTIN, Texas (NBC News) —
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.
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.
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.