Discovery paves way for improved painkillers
An international team of researchers involving the University of Adelaide and University of Colorado has made a discovery that could lead to more effective treatment of severe pain using morphine. Morphine is an extremely important drug for pain relief, but it can lead to a range of side-effects - such as patients developing tolerance to morphine and increased sensitivity to pain. Until now, how this occurs has remained a mystery. The team has shown for the first time how opioid drugs, such as morphine, create an inflammatory response in the brain by activating an immune receptor. They have also demonstrated how this brain immune receptor can be blocked, laying the groundwork for the development of new therapeutic drugs that improve the effectiveness of morphine while reducing many of its problematic side-effects.