A model of nasal spray capable of delivering natural painkillers to the brain may become one of the most prominent breakthroughs in the medical science in recent times. Developed by the scientists from the University College London, it has been tried successfully on animals. Opioids have killed thousands of people in the United States so far and there are no signs of it letting up. For a country ravaged by an opioid epidemic, this nasal spray would be no less than a boon.
The researchers used the nasal spray on rats to deliver millions of soluble nanoparticles of natural opioids to their brains. They found that it significantly reduced pain sensations in the rats even as they did not show any signs of dependence. The experiment proved that the nasal spray mitigated the risk of addiction that came with the use of opioids in pain reduction.
Human trial on the anvil
After a successful experiment on animals that produced the desired results, the scientists are now keen on expanding their research to cover humans. They are actively pursuing funds for the same. To start with, they will give the sprays to healthy volunteers and monitor whether it offered any help in controlling their pain when they had one of their arms immersed in icy cold water.
“If people don’t develop tolerance, you don’t have them always having to up the dose. And if they don’t have to up the dose, they won’t get closer and closer to overdose,” said lead researcher Ijeoma Uchegbu, a professor of pharmaceutical nanoscience at Nanomerics, a UCL startup. Once this phase of human trials ends, the researchers want to explore the efficacy of the nasal spray in helping patients of bone cancer, known for experiencing excruciating pain all of a sudden.
New technology much needed
Since natural and synthetic opioids behave differently in the body, this experiment could be promising. Synthetic opioids like oxycodone and fentanyl behave differently and people become dependent on them quickly. As time progresses, patients become tolerant to them and require higher doses to experience the same relief in pain sensations.
For scientists, utilizing natural opioids in assuaging pain has been a perennial struggle. The use of synthetic opioids has resulted in a catastrophe leading to dependence and consequently, overdoses. Uchegbu said that if the experiment proved to be successful in humans, it could bring a sea change in addiction treatment programs.
So far, millions of people have perished due to opioid overdoses around the world, with the U.S. being the most affected. Addiction to prescription painkillers is a huge problem in the country today. Its worsening condition forced President Donald Trump to declare the situation as a public health emergency last year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2016 alone, more than 42,000 people succumbed to opioid overdose.
Opioid addiction can be treated
Though opioid addiction has claimed thousands of lives, it is a treatable condition and one can gain sobriety with intervention. If you have a loved one addicted to opioids, seek immediate help from one of the credible opioid detox centers in your vicinity.
Sovereign Health is a leading substance abuse treatment provider in the U.S. that offers comprehensive opioids detox treatment for long-term recovery. Get in touch with our 24/7 helpline or chat online with our medical representatives for further information on our opiate rehab centers.