A quarter of a million Americans suffer from chronic pain and for many of them, opioids are their best option for relief, but in the middle of the nation's opioid epidemic, scientists in Dallas are looking for long-term pain relief without the harmful effects of narcotics.
They may have found the answer.
Ted Price, a neuroscientist out of the University of Texas at Dallas, devoted his study to figuring out why we have lingering pain and how to treat it without opiods.
Eventually, he found that pain occurs because of two receptors. These receptors sometimes become hyper active and that can lead to chronic pain, if the hyper-activity isn't re-wired.
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He's used his discoveries to repurpose medications currently on the market and send them to clinical trials.
"I personally love this repurposing idea because the need is urgent," said Dr. Price.
They've been able to repurpose metformin, a common diabetes drug, after studying the molecular mechanisms in the body that cause chronic pain.
Dr. Price and his team have also discovered a new chemical compound, a brand new drug, that he says could be as effective as opioids but without the negative side effects.
That drug too, he says, will likely to go to clinical trials within two years.
"Our focus is really on trying to provide options for patients and physicians so that we can overcome this issue with opioid addiction and opioid misuse that has had such a terrible effect on our society."