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Morphine Relief Without Addiction? 308

Roland Piquepaille writes "Morphine has been used as a painkiller for decades, if not centuries. Unfortunately for patients, morphine is also an addictive substance. Now, Brigham Young University (BYU) chemists are using a vine plant that grows in Australia to develop a new painkilling molecule, but with fewer side effects. The Deseret Morning News reports that the BYU chemists hope to ease pain with hasubanonine, the synthetic compound they created and which has a similar molecular structure as morphine. Still, more tests need to be done before this natural drug can replace morphine."
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Morphine Relief Without Addiction?

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  • by daniil ( 775990 ) <evilbj8rn@hotmail.com> on Sunday August 20, 2006 @05:31PM (#15945325) Journal
    Dr. Freud recommends cocaine [druglibrary.org] as morphine relief.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pHatidic ( 163975 )
      For those who don't know, Freud used cocaine from time to time but never got addicted. However, he gave it to one of his friends to try who later died from his addiction to the substance.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by niktemadur ( 793971 )
        There's a pretty good movie from the seventies called The Seven Percent Solution, in which Sherlock Holmes teams up with Dr. Sigmund Freud to cure his cocaine addiction, all the while solving a murder case. Of course, cocaine was an over-the-counter drug at the turn of the century. Consider the name Coca-Cola, which originally contained coca leaf extract.
      • For those who don't know, Freud used cocaine from time to time but never got addicted. However, he gave it to one of his friends to try who later died from his addiction to the substance.

        Fascinating. I wonder if Freud was ADD or ADHD?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Once the addiction has transferred, you can then try using modafinil to break the cocaine addiction.
  • Heroin (Score:5, Informative)

    by snowgirl ( 978879 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @05:33PM (#15945336) Journal
    If I recall correctly, Heroin was originally designed the same way, or at least to help people get off of a morphine addiction.

    Oops! It turned out to be even more addictive, oh well, let's try again. hehe
    • Re:Heroin (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @05:54PM (#15945429)
      From the Wikipedia:

      From 1898 through to 1910 it was marketed as a non-addictive morphine substitute and cough medicine for children. Bayer marketed heroin as a "cure" for morphine addiction before it was discovered that heroin is converted to morphine in the liver.
      One problem with this new drug is that anything that is analgesic will have some addictive potential.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by timeOday ( 582209 )
        One problem with this new drug is that anything that is analgesic will have some addictive potential.
        How so? Aspirin is analgesic and isn't particularly addictive.
        • by Nutria ( 679911 )
          One problem with this new drug is that anything that is analgesic will have some addictive potential.

          How so? Aspirin is analgesic and isn't particularly addictive.


          And neither is acetamenophin(sp?).

          What he should have said was:
          anything that is opiate will have some addictive potential
          • Actually, we know of four distinct opiate receptors, and it is hypothesized that only one of these is critical to the analgesic role of opiates, while the other three relate to the euphoric effects.

            But really, morphine is far less addictive than, say, nicotine, or alprazolam. Those benzodiazepines are murder (sometimes literally) for withdrawal. Morphine is grossly underprescribed, like most pain killers, because of the DEA terror campaign against people with chronic pain.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Nutria ( 679911 )
              But really, morphine is far less addictive than, say, nicotine, or alprazolam. Those benzodiazepines are murder (sometimes literally) for withdrawal.

              The side effects of nicotine don't seem that bad. (Although inhaling burning hot gasses and all the other particulate crud that are in the typical nicotine delivery system sure don't appeal to me very much.

              Morphine's side-effects seem pretty nasty, though.

              Morphine is grossly underprescribed, like most pain killers

              Agree with you there.

              because of the DEA terror
    • Re:Heroin (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Sunday August 20, 2006 @05:58PM (#15945447)
      If I recall correctly, Heroin was originally designed the same way, or at least to help people get off of a morphine addiction.

      Oops! It turned out to be even more addictive, oh well, let's try again. hehe


      Rinse and repeat with methadone.

      • Ditto meperadine (Demerol) and hydromorphone (Dilaudid). Sometimes it seems that the only difference between the tremendously profitable illegal drug trade and the tremendously profitable legal drug trade in the USA is that the first one is less dishonest in its sales pitches.

      • Re:Heroin (Score:4, Interesting)

        by DrVomact ( 726065 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:55AM (#15947070) Journal
        Rinse and repeat with methadone.

        ...and now with buphrenorphine. (See, for example this article [stopthedrugwar.org]).

        The cycle seems to run like this: Drug A has been found to be "addicting" (for practical purposes, let's define this as "makes you feel really shitty if you stop taking it"), and it has been noticed that people enjoy themselves after taking it. Drug A is therefore declared by the media and government agencies as "evil". (Note that both conditions are necessary and sufficient for evilness: prescription medications that make you feel really shitty if you stop taking them (like certain anti-depressants) aren't evil--presumably because people suffer instead of feeling pleasure. Coffe and likker are OK even though they make some people feel good because they're not addicting (or so they say).

        Ok, now we all know that a substance that makes people feel good and that makes them want to keep taking it is a social disaster that puts terrorism, plagues, famine and and the imminent fall of Western culture in the shade, so what do we do? There are, of course, many alternative approaches to this problem but one that has gained some favor is to adopt a new drug, "B" as the "cure" for problem A. This looks good because drug B isn't evil--it hasn't yet experienced the media frenzy that unshakeably convinces the populace that a drug is evil. So drug B is now prescribed for heroin addicts to "cure" them. In the case of Methadone, this was obviously silly because Methadone is just as addicting as heroin, and can make you feel quite nice. In other words, some Methadone patients may be -gasp- enjoying themselves! Methadone does have the advantage of lasting longer than heroin, so it can be handed out to heroin addicts on a once-daily basis, thereby controlling their dosage. But really, this is no different in principle from handing out a day's ration of, say, Dilaudid to the addict. It just looks better, and we all know that looks are all-important.

        Of course, Methadone has acquired a definite tinge of evilness, and it's hard to establish a methadone program, and difficult to get into one because the possibility that some individuals may possibly be enjoying themselves troubles the conscience of the media and the politicians.

        Now we have Buphrenorphine that is being embraced as the new "cure". Well guess what, addicts aren't going to stop being addicts because they need their daily fix of bupe, and --curses!-- some of them are smiling.

        Personally, I think the whole business is silly. I do think there are some people who have a big problem with addiction, but I think the best way to help them is to do what the British have been doing for years, and just prescribe reasonable amounts of the stuff they crave. Maybe bupe will be a better drug, in that accidental or deliberate overdose may be less likely with this drug (it's partly self-limiting because beyond a certain dosage it stops working). But folks, none of these programs is going to work if we Americans don't get over the notion that feeling good by taking certain pharmaceuticals is ipso facto an evil thing.

    • If I recall correctly, Heroin was originally designed the same way, or at least to help people get off of a morphine addiction.

      I think it would be more accurate to say that heroin was prescribed for patients with intractable pain that could not be relieved by morphine.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by servognome ( 738846 )
        I think it would be more accurate to say that heroin was prescribed for patients with intractable pain that could not be relieved by morphine.

        It would be more acurate to say that heroin was self-prescribed to anybody with a Sears Catalog, even came with the syringe.
      • I think it would be more accurate to say that heroin was prescribed for patients with intractable pain that could not be relieved by morphine.

        You are perpetrating a lie.

        One of the arguments given for the use of heroin was because it could cure "morphinism" and it provided a way of treating severe pain without risk of "morphinism".

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The worst part about both of those drugs is the prohibition against them. Either one can be taken by an experienced user with very little side effects. The damage normally experienced by a user is due to contaminates in the impure street versions of these drugs. Ironically, the (relatively) non-addictive synthetic opioids used to "treat" addiction can causes damage even though they are pure prescriptions. Such is the nature of drugs the government allows people to make money off of and drugs the governm
      • I call: Bullshit.
        • by x2A ( 858210 )
          Unfortunately it's not... it's pretty f*#!&k up.

          Yes, with pure smack, injecting's gonna be more on the dangerous side, but that level of danger is *nothing* compared to the danger of injecting yourself with brick dust or anything else often found in the street stuff.

    • by E++99 ( 880734 )
      If I recall correctly, Heroin was originally designed the same way, or at least to help people get off of a morphine addiction.
      And, I think, before that, morphine was the revolutionary non-addictive form of opium.

      (of course this, new thing is from a completely different plant, so who knows.)
  • by user9918277462 ( 834092 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @05:36PM (#15945348) Journal
    Painkillers (opioid painkillers, specifically) are addictive precisely because of their analgesic effects. Addiction and analgesia are not separate traits, but rather two aspects of the same action. Anything that provides strong central pain relief (as opposed to peripheral analgesia as in NSAIDs) has at least some risk of causing psychological or physical dependence.
    • by Pedrito ( 94783 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @06:07PM (#15945487)
      Painkillers (opioid painkillers, specifically) are addictive precisely because of their analgesic effects.

      Don't confuse addiction with habit. Addiction is a physical dependency and that aspect doesn't necessarily have any relation to its analgesic effect. Aspirin has analgesic properties, but NO addictive qualities.

      What makes opioids addictive is unknown. What makes them analgesic is, to some degree, understood. The two may be linked, but because something is analgesic does not make it addictive. It may be "habit-forming", on the other hand. Marijuana, for example, can be habit-forming, but it is not addictive because one does not develop a physical dependence on the presence of the drug in their system.
      • by Baddas ( 243852 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @06:39PM (#15945587) Homepage
        Read the grandparent again. Asprin is a drug that acts very similarly to NSAIDs, which he SPECIFICALLY disclaimed

        Marijuana is a non sequitur, he's talking about central nervous system analgesics.

        Try that one again, this time, with reading comprehension.

        For reference:
        Asprin: peripheral analgesic
        Heroin: central analgesic
        Ibuprofen: peripheral analgesic
        Oxycodone: central analgesic.

        See a pattern here? pethidine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, diamorphine, fentanyl, basically anything that is inhibited by a mu antagonist is going to get you addicted if you take it long enough.
        • by puck01 ( 207782 )
          Isn't acetaminophen (tylenol) centrally acting? Sure its not an opiate and has a different mechanism of action, but it is centrally acting.

      • not only that... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Quadraginta ( 902985 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @06:46PM (#15945605)
        If you read TFA instead of the completely misleading summary, you'll note that...

        (1) The BYU chemists don't know if the compound has painkilling properties at all. It's the mirror image of another molecule which is known not to be a painkiller. The mirror image is similar to morphine, so they hope it might have the painkilling properties of morphine. But it's painkilling properties are at this point entirely theoretical.

        (2) They have no clue whatsoever whether, if it has painkilling properties, it is less addictive than morphine. It just as easily be more addictive. All they know is, while it looks like morphine, it isn't exactly morphine, so it will probably have slightly different properties.

        (3) And of course, they have no idea whether the new molecule would have other, less desirable differences from morphine -- like being a deadly poison to the kidneys. Whether the stuff could even be safely taken by humans is still unknown.

        In short, the summary on this article wildly exaggerates its content.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Pedrito ( 94783 )
          And if you RMFP (read my F-ing post), you'd realize I wasn't addressing the article, but a previous post. You're correct. The article makes it clear they have no idea if this drug will do anything at this point. It could have no pain-killing properties and be terribly physically addictive for all they know.

          That said, there are a variety of morphine-derived drugs that exhibit painkilling properties and the properties that make morphine painkilling are fairly well understood. Drug development isn't quite as m
      • I believe the grandparent already made an explicit statement on what type of pain killers were addictive and which were not.

        Anything that provides strong central pain relief (as opposed to peripheral analgesia as in NSAIDs) has at least some risk of causing psychological or physical dependence.

        According to dictionary.com:
        http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=nsaid [reference.com]

        NSAID also Nsaid
        n. A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

        Therefore both of you acknowledge that opioid painkiller

        • by 7Prime ( 871679 )

          To be honest, addiction doesn't require a physical dependence. One can be addicted to computers, games, or internet without having a real physical dependance on it. The article states that It's not well understood what structural features are responsible for the addictive properties of morphine, but I would assume it's something chemical related. They're trying to reduce the addictive quality of strong pain killers, not remove it, as they said: But it is possible they have found a key to a kinder morphineli

    • by Nik13 ( 837926 )
      Even if they claimed lesser or no dependance, I still wouldn't try it. I am addicted to morphine, but it's not a big problem, as I'm unlikely to stop taking it anytime soon (chronic pain). And like you said, the new painkiller might turn out to be just addictive (or maybe even more - like was discovered before for other drugs). And I don't like being a guinea pig for new drugs. I've taken a fair amount of vioxx before, which seemingly wasn't so good for me, even though previous studies likely showed it was
    • by E++99 ( 880734 )
      Painkillers (opioid painkillers, specifically) are addictive precisely because of their analgesic effects.
      Not true. Tramodol (Ultram), for example, is an an opioid-like analgesic that is not at all addictive.
    • I was on morphine for a couple of weeks when I had peritonitis as a teenager. The nurses told me that addiction basically didn't happen when people were using it for pain. I never had any withdrawal symptoms, and never felt any psychological need for it. I think it affected my mental state a lot, since I was pretty close to dying, but I didn't worry much. This country is just in the grips of hysteria about drugs. It's a real shame when it keeps people with cancer, or old people who are dying, from getting e

  • by r00t ( 33219 )
    To avoid the addictive problems of morphine, we invented heroin. Oops.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 20, 2006 @05:37PM (#15945354)

    as someone who was recently in hospital and had morphine (and as a person who has done just about every drug there is) i can say it doesnt actually _stop_ the pain it just makes you not care about it, but it was still there even when wasted out of my skull it just makes you not care

    now a painkiller that would actually take away pain would iam sure be welcomed

    • by saleenS281 ( 859657 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @06:50PM (#15945616) Homepage
      I'm gonna go ahead and guess that it just wasn't effective on you because of your aforementioned other drug "experiments". It turns out things like morphine are basically worthless to ex-crack addicts because they've built up an immunity/tolerance to things that take away pain for most of us.

      As someone who was also recently in the hospital, and also recently had morphine, it most definitely takes away the pain.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by stickystyle ( 799509 )
        As someone who was also recently in the hospital, and also recently had morphine, it most definitely takes away the pain.
        I would have toagree with the parent also, it just makes you not care, sometimes to the point where you -forget- its there. The pain is still there.
        ...although i cannot discount your experience, I am not you and everyone reacts slightly differently to medication. You qualify that statement in your post.
    • Then you are one of the people who are immune to it. I'm immune to Demarol; for others, it's an effective painkiller, for me it does nothing. We don't think about it, but it is entirely possible to be immune to painkillers. The next time you are hospitalzed you should mention to your doctor that morphine doesn't appear to work for you.

  • Hardly a new concept (Score:3, Informative)

    by slapyslapslap ( 995769 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @05:37PM (#15945355)
    There are several companies out there with similar meds in trials. Pain Therapeutics, Inc. http://www.paintrials.com/ [paintrials.com] is doing this.
  • Painkillers without side-effects?

    Welcome, to a A Brave New World [wikipedia.org]!

    Oh wait, there's already a drug marketed under the name of Soma [wikipedia.org]? Damn!

    Ryan Fenton
    • Oh wait, there's already a drug marketed under the name of Soma?

      Wow, I would have never thought a company would be dumb enough to market a drug as "Soma" in the US or UK. Someone in marketing either never read "Brave New World" or forgot about it.

      The book was required reading for me, although I don't remember if it was middle or high school.

  • Despite being banned in the USA, Herion (diamorphine) is used in palliative care here in the UK where addiction is not a problem.

    Morphine is also used, and again, addiction is not a problem, but for different reasons. If the right dose is used, so it goes, the physiological changes in the brain that cause addiction do not happen (mind you, the New Scientist is hardly a reputable source of knowlege).

    So, the war on opiates continues...

    • uh. hello?
    • Despite being banned in the USA, Herion (diamorphine) is used in palliative care here in the UK where addiction is not a problem.

      Morphine is also used, and again, addiction is not a problem, but for different reasons. If the right dose is used, so it goes, the physiological changes in the brain that cause addiction do not happen (mind you, the New Scientist is hardly a reputable source of knowlege).

      So, the war on opiates continues...

      I'd love it if you had a chat with a nice woman I met in Scotland who trans

  • Natural drug? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Sunday August 20, 2006 @05:54PM (#15945432) Homepage Journal
    How is a drug derived from a vine any more/less natural than a drug derived from a flower?
    • by neo8750 ( 566137 )
      How is a drug derived from a vine any more/less natural than a drug derived from a flower?

      You refer to morphine i assume. Well morphine is in no way a natural thing it comes from opium which is natural. Correct me if I am wrong but, morphine it self is synthetic because it needs to be synthesised.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        You are, in fact, wrong. Morphine is produced by being extracted - not synthesized - from opium. It's made by the poppies, and the people only have to purify it. Synthesis is technically possible, and the morphine synthesis was an important milestone in organic chemistry, but that's because of the scientific insights it involved; synthesis is not the normal production process for morphine. You're probably thinking of heroin, which is synthesized using morphine as starting material.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 20, 2006 @05:57PM (#15945445)
    I love how all the low number slashdot users all appear to be addicts/former addicts.
  • chronic pain (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 20, 2006 @06:02PM (#15945462)
    When you live with a terminally ill person, the idea of addiction quickly becomes asinine. Yet, they still won't prescribe it for addiction reasons. Lo, let this comment get relegated to the depths of un-moderation. And you Slashdot libertarians can wait until your family member has chronic pain - so you can wonder why republicans don't want them addicted. Ooo, I know, blame it on democrats.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      And you Slashdot libertarians can wait until your family member has chronic pain - so you can wonder why republicans don't want them addicted.

      We don't need to wait. We already understand the republicans' failure to protect personal choice. That's one of the reasons that we are libertarians.
      Lighten up; we libertarians are on your side in this fight, even if you are a democrat :)
    • Institutionalized drug hysteria is a disease goes to absurd extremes. Take John Roberts, the guy who was put on the Supreme Court by Bush, then made Chief Justice a month later, with not a day of experience yet.
      One of the cases the Supreme Court heard in its' first days concerned euthanasia, and while the technicalities were explained about how an opiate had to be administered to the individual, so that suffering during the death process would be minimized, Chief Justice Roberts interrupted to ask somethin
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      >When you live with a terminally ill person, the idea of addiction quickly becomes asinine.

      The formal definition of addiction includes a criterion of consuming more of the substance than is medically justified. For example, it would be stupid to talk about diabetics being "addicted" to insulin. Similarly for pain control in the terminally ill or even in survivable cases like severe burns. My late mother got the morphine she needed.

      Anyone who talks about "addiction" in cases like that or withholds medicat
  • Medical comments: (Score:5, Informative)

    by olddoc ( 152678 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @06:03PM (#15945469)
    I am an Anesthesiologist. I give people morhine and fentanyl on a daily basis.
    Morphine is a natural drug, it comes from a plant. Cocaine, digitalis, aspirin and many other drugs are also natural.
    If the new drug is related to morphine I take that to mean it will work on the same receptors in the brain.
    If it does, it will have a similar side effect profile: constipation, nausea, respiratory depression and probably addictive potential.
    To me, this is just a "me too" drug like Tagamet/Zantac/Pepcid that all work the same way on the same receptors.

    Interestingly, there is no profit margin in simple morphine. The cost to the hospital for an ampule that would relieve severe pain is on the order of $1.
    The DEA paperwork is a bigger cost to a hospital!

    The biggest long term problem for people who take morhine (or heroin in the UK or oxycontin or any drug in this class) is constipation.
    Cancer patients don't have to worry about addiction.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Gyan ( 6853 )
      If it does, it will have a similar side effect profile: constipation, nausea, respiratory depression and probably addictive potential.

      Not exactly. Peripheral opioid antagonists, like methylnaltrexone, can neutralise effects like constipation without affecting CNS sctivity. In theory, even respiratory depression may be averted since it's a different MOR subtype involved in that autonomic role, compared to the analgesic circuit (although I'm not aware of any products so far).
      • by olddoc ( 152678 )
        The drug is being examined for analgesia uses and to be similar to morphine.
        I am not aware of any mu opioid receptors that result in the relief of severe pain
        without respiratory depression.
        This is also a very early report. I don't read basic pharmacology journals, but any new compound
        that was promising in animal models would have made it to the major Anesthesiology journals that I read.
        I certainly wish them luck.
    • Re:Medical comments: (Score:4, Informative)

      by asuffield ( 111848 ) <asuffield@suffields.me.uk> on Sunday August 20, 2006 @08:05PM (#15945816)
      Morphine is a natural drug, it comes from a plant.


      Since we haven't yet invented a practical form of transmutation or energy-matter conversion, everything is 'natural', in that it is made from things extracted from plants, animals, or rocks. 'Natural' is an emotive word with no scientific meaning.

      Somewhat more to the point, drugs roughly equivalent to morphine (endorphins) are naturally produced by the body on its own, without any external intervention. You can even get addicted to them, if you can be bothered to engage in the heavy exercise necessary (many serious athletes become mildly addicted, and yes, it's real addiction - they show physical withdrawal symptoms if they stop exercising regularly, just like with any other opiate, and can occasionally require medical treatment to manage this if an injury prevents them from training). In no sense can you call an opiate, or any quantity of an opiate, 'unnatural'. It's a fundamental part of how the human body/mind operates (including everything from chocolate to orgasm).

      People need to find something less pointless to talk about than whether something is 'natural'.
      • by olddoc ( 152678 )
        I agree completely.
        I love people who want "natural childbirth".
        I tell them I'll give them cocaine in an epidural and morhine.
        So many people really believe that if it comes out of a plant it is safe and OK, but if a human plays with it it is synthetic or unnatural or unsafe.
        What hogwash!
    • Just out of curiosity, why don't cancer patients have to worry about addiction?
  • Relief (Score:5, Funny)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @06:04PM (#15945473) Homepage Journal
    Boy, am I glad that tribal Australians will be reimbursed for all the R&D they invested in breeding that vine for thousands of years. That their prior art will prevent some pharmaco from patenting the vine, that the pharmaco lobbyists won't be able to prevent Australians from using the cheap original plant.
    • by feijai ( 898706 )
      Products aren't patentable.

      Processes are patentable. The drug company's method for producing the drug from the vine is the patentable item. All the aborigines have to do is develop a different process, and they're in the money too.

      • I hear that a lot. In fact the product is patentable, consistent with common sense. The specific "device" or product is protected by the patent, as well as closely similar ones with no "novelty". Genes are routinely patented, as well. And pharmaco prevention of traditional remedies that could compete with their patented products is increasingly common.
  • by lax-goalie ( 730970 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @06:10PM (#15945497)

    In the next to last sentence: "the synthetic compound they created".

    In the last sentence: "this natural drug".

    Ummm, those two phrases are the complete opposite of each other...

    From the F'ing article:

    We've synthesized a mixture of the two mirror-image compounds, the idea being we can take the mirror image of the natural one

    Mirror image of the "natural one". Sounds like a "synthetic compound" to me...

    • My interpretation of "We've synthesized a mixture of the two mirror-image compounds, the idea being we can take the mirror image of the natural one" is that they have produced the substance in the lab, but the product is racemic - i.e., the molecule exists in two isomers that are mirror images of each other.

      Biological processes tend to produce isomers that have the same symmetry. (Right-handed, I think, but I could be wrong.) Inorganic lab processes produce both. Sometimes, both isomers have the same biolog
  • Across the Big Pond (Score:4, Informative)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @06:20PM (#15945526) Homepage Journal
    How fortunate that tribal Africans spent thousands of years breeding ibogaine [ibogaine.net] for an opiate withdrawal/detox remedy.
    • Oooh, Ibogaine. I've heard that nobody is even remotely interested in taking this baby recreationally. About how, when a member of the tribe takes Ibogaine, it is part of a long, elaborate and persistent ritual, to confine the individual within a certain mental space, since the effects of the drug can be highly erratic, therefore psychologically hazardous. The tribe member under the effects is administered Ibogaine several times, and is under constant supervision. Ibogaine is NOT a drug for casual use,
      • All the best Yippies, and George McGovern, swear by ibogaine.

        Slashdot is a powerful psychedelic, moderation an entheogen, metamoderation virtual reality. Too bad it's so habit forming, but at least it's free.
    • Moderation 0
          50% Redundant
          50% Informative

      No one else mentioned ibogaine in this discussion except in response to me. TrollMods are pretty weird to keep the decades of suppressing ibogaine going on Slashdot. But they're probably just Slashstalkers, addicted to TrollModding me. No cure for that except cold turkey from the Web.
  • by Chris Kamel ( 813292 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @06:36PM (#15945581)
    the synthetic compound they created and which has a similar molecular structure as morphine. Still, more tests need to be done before this natural drug can replace morphine

    Talk about self contradiction...
  • by viking2000 ( 954894 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @07:05PM (#15945664)
    I would like to suggest that Roland Piquepailles submissions be placed in a seperate blog.

    I read /. to get real news and facts, and see discussions from people with insight.
    Roland Piquepailles submissions are usually vague quasiscience or fiction.

    It seems this last one "Morphine Relief Without Addiction?", is just some graduate students learning to synthsize a compound with no empirical data it is any more useful than sand. I quote: "The *idea* is that we *can* send it to NIH to test to see if it kills pain"

    You should mod this up if you agree or mod away as flamebait/offtopic/troll if you dont agree, but at least mod it.
  • by Shannon Love ( 705240 ) on Sunday August 20, 2006 @07:32PM (#15945723) Homepage
    The vast majority of people who must use morphine for medical reasons, even those requiring long term use, don't become morphine "addicts" as we normally use the term. Most users wean themselves off the drug relatively easily when the pain they used the morphine to suppress goes away. Many drugs, with and without neurological effects, are physically addictive in that suddenly stopping the intake of the drug causes illness yet no one speaks of "beta blocker addicts."

    Addiction to psychoactive drugs arises from the psychological instead of the physiological effects of the drugs. New drugs that offer the the same psychological effects as traditional drugs will present most of the same addiction issues.
  • Source with Images (Score:5, Informative)

    by nmb3000 ( 741169 ) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Sunday August 20, 2006 @07:47PM (#15945774) Journal
    Interesting that neither the summary nor the article links to the page at BYU's NewsNet page [byu.edu]. It has a few more details, links to other sources, a video, and pictures related to the research.
  • ...the National Institutes of Health ... will check to see if it does, indeed, have painkilling properties, as [the researchers] suspect.

    So it hasn't even been demonstrated to be effective, yet alone safe, non-addictive and economic.

    If /. ran an article on every promising drug candidate this early in development, we'd probably be getting a dozen a day.
  • The submission, as well as TFA, refer to this compound's potential for pain relief without the "addictive" properties of morphine. The article does not, however, discuss the differences between the psychological condition of "addiction" versus the physical condition of "dependance". Any drug with the ability to relieve pain, cause sedation, or change neurotranmitter levels are potentially addictive. Hopefully this new drug does not create the physical syndrome of dependance created by older, more traditional, opiates.

    That said, such a drug is already on the market, Tramadol [wikipedia.org]. Tramadol delivers on it's promise of pain relief without dependance, however, it does not have the potency. Tramadol only exhibits about 10% of the analgesic effect of morphine.

    If this new drug offers relief from moderate to severe pain without the physical issues caused by opiate agonists, it would be a welcome breakthrough. Many chronic pain sufferers (myself included) spend their lives dependant on medications that cause awful side effects if abruptly discontinued. A pain reliever that does not create this problem would certainly be useful in treating legitimate pain.

    But, I suspect the title of this posting and TFA itself, are somewhat misleading - there is nothing that can alleviate the psychological problem of addiction in those seeking to abuse medications.
  • by MythoBeast ( 54294 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @10:30AM (#15948393) Homepage Journal
    No, I'm not going to spout religion or philosophy at you, nor am I going to try to sell you something. What I'm going to describe is strongly backed up by scientific evidence, although it's heavily resisted by those who would normally be responsible for telling you about it because it would largely put them out of business.

    Opiates in general work because they are similar to endorphins. Endorphins are a chemical in our system that provides a pleasurable sensation when we're doing something that is contrary to energy efficiency, and yet is beneficial to either individual or genetic survival. Exercise, sex, and "thrilling" activities are the primary examples of this, being called "runner's high" "afterglow" for the first two.

    Any time we perform a behavior and it results in us having opioids in our system (endorpin, morphine, whatever), the neural links that were recently fired get stronger -- take less effort to fire. This isn't just a matter of "hey, that felt good, I think I'll do it again", it's a matter of reinforcing the neural linkage that recently occured, and this makes us consider those paths to be more favorable when examining our options in the future. This results in opioid addiction, and is also largely responsible for alcoholism. Alcoholics are mostly people whose system produces an abundance of endorphins.

    If you don't have a medical background the cure may seem a little anti-intuitive, but medical experts that I describe it to generally nod their head and say "yea, that makes sense". When we perform a behavior and get flushed with opioids, the connections get stronger. When we perform a behavor and DON'T get flushed with opioids, the connections get weaker, returning to their normal state. What this means about a cure is against a lot of people's grain. First, you take something that blocks your opioid uptake. Endorphin antagonists are commonly sold under the names of ReVia, naltrexone, noloxone and nalphemene. They're generally used to ease opiate withdrawl symptoms and to treat alcoholism. Then you feed your addiction.

    In case you missed it, I'll say it again. If you perform the behavior (smoking opium, shooting up heroin, get drunk, whatever) and your body doesn't get the opioid flush, then your body unlearns the addiction. For alcoholism, most patients regain the upper hand on their urges after two or three weeks, and can drink socially without fear of overdrinking or going on a binge after about three months. For this to occur, however, the person MUST perform their addictive behavior, and it works best if they perform their habits when and where they normally do.

    There is a lot of information about this. If you're interested, the best place to start is probably the Wikipedia entry on the Sinclair Method [wikipedia.org].

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