Maybe hope is not lost after all.
Blue Therapeutics is a Harvard start-up founded by Ajay Yekkirala, Michio Painter and David Roberson, which is creating a new kind of painkiller that may be proven to be more effective than existing opioids and may eliminate the risks for addiction.
“An important element of the addiction problem we’re facing is the prevalence of pain,” David Roberson said in an interview with Bostinno.
“Pain is the most common reason people seek health care, and the most prescribed medications are painkillers. Pain is a big problem that must be addressed. The opioids that are currently widely used are addictive, but they’re also the most effective compounds to treat pain.”
Their product development initiatives are built upon a molecule that Ajay Yekkirala created while he was a Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota.
The molecule binds to a receptors that are not located in the pleasure center of the brain to produce pain relief. The molecule also serves as an antagonist to the receptors that are located in the pleasure center of the brain. In short, it may be proven to provide powerful pain relief with no risk for addiction.
The trio is actively seeking funding so it can take the novel technology into clinical trials. The company’s “elevator pitch” is:
“Conventional opioids such as morphine are effective at treating pain, but come with serious side-effects, including addictive potential. As a result, tens of thousands of people die each year in the U.S. from prescription opioid overdose, while countless others form dependence. In response, our team is advancing a novel small molecule that shows greater painkilling potency than morphine while demonstrating no abuse potential. Our goal is to move this compound from the lab to the clinic.”
It’s encouraging to see that the future may well separate the issues of addiction and pain management, which are at the heart of the national debate the CDC inflamed with its controversial draft guidelines for opioid prescribing. It, too may hold the promise of enabling pain physicians to effectively treat people with chronic pain without fear of losing their medical licenses, or worse, being convicted of crimes.