Existing drug is effective in preventing withdrawal symptoms in opioid-dependent rodents
Originally published by the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary on June 30, 2017
Opioid use and abuse is a significant social, health and economic issue in Canada. Researchers at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) and Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) have discovered that an existing anti-gout medication is effective in reducing the severity of withdrawal symptoms in opioid-dependent rodents. Their work is leading to the development of a clinical trial at the Calgary Pain Clinic.
Neuroscientist Tuan Trang, PhD, and his team including PhD student Nicole Burma explored the underlying causes of opioid withdrawal and identified an important target in the spinal cord that is responsible for producing withdrawal symptoms in rats and mice. The target, called pannexin-1, is located throughout the body and importantly, in the brain and spinal cord. Using sophisticated biochemical, genetic and pharmacological techniques, they demonstrate how pannexin-1 on immune cells is producing withdrawal symptoms, and then prevent these symptoms using a drug that blocks pannexin-1 activity.