A team of researchers led by scientists from the University of Warwick’s School of Life Sciences has analyzed a compound known as BnOCPA (benzyloxy-cyclopentyladenosine) which was discovered to be a powerful and selective analgesic that is non-addictive in test model systems. BnOCPA also has a unique mode of action, which could provide a new path for the creation of analgesic drugs.
The study, conducted by the Warwick team in collaboration with researchers from the University of Bern, University of Cambridge, Coventry University, Monash University, and industrial organizations, was recently published in in the journal Nature Communications.
In the UK, between a third and a half of the population report having chronic pain that is either moderately or severely disabling. Such pain negatively affects the quality of life, and many of the often prescribed painkillers have side effects. Opioids, such as morphine and oxycodone, can cause addiction and are dangerous when used in excess. There is thus an unmet need for new, powerful painkillers.
Many drug works by activating adapter molecules known as G proteins on the cell surface. The activation of G proteins can cause a variety of cellular effects. Because just one kind of G protein is activated by BnOCPA, its actions are very selective, minimizing the possibility of negative side effects.