A major mechanism underlying the development of tolerance to chronic morphine treatment discovered by Mount Sinai researchers might lead the way for new therapies to treat chronic pain.
Developing tolerance towards morphine after chronic administration is a hurdle in pain management, but it also poses other problems, such as addiction and constipation.
Now researchers have identified how they can block this tolerance to treat pain with fewer side effects.
Lakshmi Devi and her colleagues found a protein complex that excessively accumulates in areas of the brain that process pain - which may be the cause of the development of morphine tolerance.
Their next step would be to develop a drug that prevents this process by blocking individual receptors from signalling the analgesic response to morphine.
"We look forward to studying the behaviour of similar receptor complexes in diseases like obesity, alcohol-induced liver fibrosis, and neuropathic pain itself," said Devi.
The findings are published in the July 20th issue of Science Signaling.