WASHINGTON, DC – Researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill recently made a breakthrough that could revolutionize the way pain is treated. They have isolated the receptors in the brain that activate pain relief from the ones that cause side effects like addiction.
As more than 90 Americans die each day from opioid abuse and more than 25 million report experiencing daily pain, this breakthrough could bring relief to patients across the country. As part of their findings, scientists now have a better understanding of the structure of the kappa opioid receptor, one of several receptors in the brain that is specific to pain relief.
This could allow researchers to develop medications that target this specific pain receptor and avoid receptors in the body that cause the side-effects like addiction, nausea, hallucinations, and even death. Non-addictive medicine shows promise for slowing the growth of the #OpioidCrisis as opioid overdose deaths have more than quadrupled since 1999.
In Congress, the Energy and Commerce Committee continues to do its part in battling this crisis. Last Congress, the committee led on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and the 21st Century Cures Act, both now law, which distributed significant funding to agencies like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to facilitate breakthrough research.
The committee also continues to conduct investigations into the causes of the opioid crisis, including alleged pill dumping in the state of West Virginia, reports of patient brokers across the nation, and the influx of highly potent, synthetic opioids like fentanyl.