A new medication for treating pain could curb the country’s opioid epidemic. U.S. and German researchers have developed a pain-relieving compound, chemically unrelated to current opioids, that doesn’t interfere with breathing, the main cause of prescription painkiller fatalities. The researchers introduced the compound, called PZM21, in a study published on Wednesday in Nature. The new molecule targets the brain-mediated emotional component of pain. This allows it to kill pain just as well as morphine does, without the side effects of respiratory suppression and dopamine-driven addiction in the brain. According to the study, PZM21 also causes less constipation and does not affect spinal cord reflexive responses as traditional narcotics do.
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