Blocking the Brain’s Immune Response May Lead to Blocking Morphine and Heroin Addiction
Morphine and heroin are drugs used to relieve moderate to severe pain in patients. However, there have been some studies that claim people who are using them on a long-term basis are developing addiction to opioids medications. This somehow adds to the increasing substance abuse problem that’s happening in many developing countries, but a new study seems to have found a solution that can reduce instances of addiction in people who use opioids.
A group of researchers from the University of Adelaide and the University of Colorado performed a study that reveals the possibility of blocking morphine and heroin addiction via the immune system of the brain.
The study, to be published in the Journal of Neuroscience, shows that the drug (+)naloxone blocks the immune-addiction response without changing the brain’s wiring.
The drug (+)naloxone is a non-opioid mirror image drug created by Dr. Kenner Rice in the 1970s.
According to the researchers, targeting a key structure called TDR4 can help in dealing with drug addiction.
Dr. Mark Hutchinson, ARC Research Fellow in the University of Adelaide’s School of Medical Sciences, said “Opioid drugs such as morphine and heroin bind to TLR4 in a similar way to the normal immune response to bacteria. The problem is that TLR4 then acts as an amplifier for addiction.”
The recent study demonstrates proof that there could be a way to block addiction by going after the brain’s immune response that amplifies drug addiction. And so the researchers are helpful that their findings will be a catalyst for the creation of a drug that will help people on morphine for pain relief without making the person addicted to the drug.
“This work fundamentally changes what we understand about opioids, reward and addiction. We’ve suspected for some years that TLR4 may be the key to blocking opioid addiction, but now we have the proof,” said Professor Linda Watkins, from the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder and the senior author of the study.Tags: opioid analgesics, opioid dependence, opioids addiction, preventing addiction