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Why a tiny, fanged fish produces a pain-free bite

Venom research laboratory scientists have solved the mystery of the pain-free bite from a small, fanged fish.

Researchers found that the fang blenny, a reef-dwelling fish, administers a bite that is laced with opioids. (BBC News, Science & Environment, 31.03.2017)


Two novel compounds powerfully suppressed animals’ pain responses, while producing little or none of the respiratory depression and liability for misuse and abuse associated with morphine and other typical opioids.

One of the compounds was extensively tested in a monkey model, laying key groundwork for moving to human trials.

The other compound was identified using computational modeling based on x-ray crystallography of a receptor’s structure, and exemplifies that technique’s potential for identifying novel compounds that can meet highly specific therapeutic needs. (NIDA Notes, 23.03.2017)


Existing drug is effective in preventing withdrawal symptoms in opioid-dependent rodents

Opioid use and abuse is a significant social, health and economic issue in Canada. Researchers at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) and Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) have discovered that an existing anti-gout medication is effective in reducing the severity of withdrawal symptoms in opioid-dependent rodents. Their work is leading to the development of a clinical trial at the Calgary Pain Clinic.

Neuroscientist Tuan Trang, PhD, and his team including PhD student Nicole Burma explored the underlying causes of opioid withdrawal and identified an important target in the spinal cord that is responsible for producing withdrawal symptoms in rats and mice. The target, called pannexin-1, is located throughout the body and importantly, in the brain and spinal cord. Using sophisticated biochemical, genetic and pharmacological techniques, they demonstrate how pannexin-1 on immune cells is producing withdrawal symptoms, and then prevent these symptoms using a drug that blocks pannexin-1 activity. (University of Calgary, 30.01.2017)


Endogenous opioids regulate moment-to-moment neuronal communication and excitability.

Winters, B. L. et al.

Nat. Commun. 8, 14611 doi: 10.1038/ncomms14611 (2017).


Blocking microglial pannexin-1 channels alleviates morphine withdrawal in rodents.

Nicole E Burma, Robert P Bonin, Heather Leduc-Pessah, Corey Baimel, Zoe F Cairncross, Michael Mousseau, Jhenkruthi Vijaya Shankara, Patrick L Stemkowski, Dinara Baimoukhametova, Jaideep S Bains, Michael C Antle, Gerald W Zamponi, Catherine M Cahill, Stephanie L Borgland, Yves DeKoninck, Tuan Trang.

Nature Medicine, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/nm.4281



Boosting natural brain opioids may be a better way to treat disabling emotions, says new research revealing their role in regulating critical brain circuits affecting fear and anxiety.

Published in Nature Communications by University of Sydney scholars, the findings suggest medications that boost the effect of natural brain opioids might be a better way to reduce anxiety than 'receptor-binding' opioid drugs like morphine, which have major side effects. (medicalxpress.com, 23.03.2017)


Genome-wide association study of therapeutic opioid dosing identifies a novel locus upstream of OPRM1

A H Smith, K P Jensen, J Li, Y Nunez, L A Farrer, H Hakonarson, S D Cook-Sather, H R Kranzler and J Gelernter

Molecular Psychiatry , (24 January 2017) | doi:10.1038/mp.2016.257



Abhängigkeit von verschreibungspflichtigen Opioiden - Prävention, Diagnostik und Therapie

Dependence on prescription opioids—prevention, diagnosis and treatment

Dtsch Arztebl Int 2016; 113(13): 213-20; DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2016.0213

Just, Johannes; Mücke, Martin; Bleckwenn, Markus


Yale researchers have discovered a genetic variant that may assist in personalizing treatment of opioid addiction.

The results of their genome-wide association study were published Jan. 24 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

The variant helped identify African Americans who might need higher doses of methadone — the most effective treatment for those dependent upon heroin or prescription painkillers. Patients receiving methadone treatment vary widely in their dose requirements. Individualized dosing is crucial to recovery: Too high of a dose can cause sedation and dangerous breathing difficulties; too low of a dose often leads to relapse. (Yale News, 24.01.2017)


An advisory panel convened by the Food and Drug Administration to evaluate the health risks of the powerful opioid painkiller Opana ER (Oxymorphone retard, Anmerkung Forum Substitutionspraxis) says that the danger it poses as a drug of abuse outweighs its benefits as a prescription painkiller.

The time-release opioid was reformulated in 2012 to make it harder to crush. The goal was to reduce abuse by snorting it. But users quickly figured out that the new formulation could be dissolved and injected. (npr, 16.03.2017)


Loss of μ opioid receptor signaling in nociceptors, but not microglia, abrogates morphine tolerance without disrupting analgesia

Gregory Corder et al.

Nature Medicine (2017). DOI: 10.1038/nm.4262



Joint Meeting of the Drug Safety and Risk Management (DSaRM) Advisory Committee and the Anesthetic and

Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee (AADPAC)

Meeting March 13 -14, 2017


Supply-Side Drug Policy in the Presence of Substitutes: Evidence from the Introduction of Abuse-Deterrent Opioids

Abby Alpert, David Powell, and Rosalie Liccardo Pacula

NBER Working Paper No. 23031

January 2017

JEL No. I12,I18,K42


Heroin use is associated with excessive histone acetylation, an epigenetic process that regulates gene expression, and more years of drug use correlate with higher levels of hyperacetylation, according to research conducted at The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and published April 1 in the journal Biological Psychiatry. The study provides the first direct evidence of opiate-related epigenetic alterations in the human brain, indicating that the drug alters accessibility to portions of DNA to be either open or closed, thereby controlling whether genes implicated in addiction are switched on or off. (Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, Pressemitteilung, 22.03.2017)


By scheduling two fentanyl precursors and a fentanyl analogue, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) is sending a clear message that it can help protect people's health and respond to the urgent needs of states, the Chair of 60th Session of the CND, Ambassador Bente Angell-Hansen said today. (UNODC, USA, 16.03.2017)


Opioid Addiction in Adolescents: A Background and Policy Brief

Adam Wenner, MSN, RN, CPNP-AC; Kristin Hittle Gigli, MSN, RN, CPNP-AC, CCRN

J Pediatr Health Care. 2016;30(6):606-609. 


Berlin. Opioide gelten als die wirksamsten Substanzen unter allen bekannten Schmerzhemmern. Wissenschaftler der Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin konnten nun nachweisen, dass sie ihre schmerzreduzierende Wirkung nicht nur über den Weg der Opioidrezeptoren von Neuronen im Gehirn entfalten, sondern dass sie auch an den Rezeptoren von Immunzellen aktiv werden. Diese Erkenntnis trägt zu einem gänzlich neuen Verständnis der Wirkweise von Schmerzmitteln bei. Wie die Wissenschaftler in der Fachzeitschrift Brain, Behavior, and Immunity* berichten, führt eine Aktivierung von Opioidrezeptoren in Immunzellen zu einer Schmerzreduktion bei Mäusen. (Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, 10.02.2017)


High Concomitant Misuse of Fentanyl in Subjects on Opioid Maintenance Treatment.

Krause D, Plörer D, Koller G, Martin G, Winter C, Adam R, Canolli M, Al-Iassin J, Musselmann R, Walcher S, Schäfer F, Pogarell O.

Subst Use Misuse. 2017 Feb 3:1-7. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2016.1246571.



Prescription drug abuse - A timely update.

Monheit B, Pietrzak D, Hocking S.

Aust Fam Physician. 2016 Dec;45(12):862-866.


EMCDDA, Lisbon, February 2017

Series type: Joint Reports


In September 2016, the EMCDDA and Europol examined the available information on a new psychoactive substance N-(1-phenethylpiperidin-4-yl)-N-phenylacrylamide, commonly known as acryloylfentanyl, through a joint assessment. The two organisations concluded that sufficient information had been accumulated to merit the production of a Joint Report on acryloylfentanyl as stipulated by Article 5.1 of the Council Decision.


The hidden web and the fentanyl problem: Detection of ocfentanil as an adulterant in heroin.

Quintana P, Ventura M, Grifell M, Palma A, Galindo L, Fornís I, Gil C, Carbón X, Caudevilla F, Farré M, Torrens M.

Int J Drug Policy. 2016 Nov 23. pii: S0955-3959(16)30310-3. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.10.006.



Opiate addiction has become increasingly common in Sierra Leone, where there are few avenues for drug rehabilitation. (Al Jazeera, 13.02.2017)


Abhängigkeit von verschreibungspflichtigen Opioiden - Prävention, Diagnostik und Therapie

Dependence on prescription opioids—prevention, diagnosis and treatment

Dtsch Arztebl Int 2016; 113(13): 213-20; DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2016.0213

Just, Johannes; Mücke, Martin; Bleckwenn, Markus


Cannabidiol: Swinging the Marijuana Pendulum From ‘Weed’ to Medication to Treat the Opioid Epidemic

Yasmin L. Hurd

Trends in Neurosciences, Publication stage: In Press Corrected Proof



LA JOLLA, CA. Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have developed a vaccine that blocks the pain-numbing effects of the opioid drugs oxycodone (oxy) and hydrocodone (hydro) in animal models. The vaccine also appears to decrease the risk of fatal opioid overdose, a growing cause of death in the United States. (Scripps Research Institute, USA, 23.11.2016)


Anhedonia to music and mu-opioids: Evidence from the administration of naltrexone

Adiel Mallik, Mona Lisa Chanda & Daniel J. Levitin

Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 41952 (2017)



(...) APPG Secretariat member Harry Shapiro, introduced the topic, characterising the situation as a ‘public health disaster’ which is killing hundreds of people a year and ruining the lives of millions more. According to BMJ, there are 28m people in the UK with have a diagnosis of chronic pain, nearly half of whom are in receipt of prescription painkillers. One telling statistic: between 1991-2014 there was a 666% increase in prescriptions for Tramadol.

(...) Nearly a third of all prescriptions for OP across the EU are written in the UK. (APPG – All Party Parliamenatry Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence, 02.11.2016)


46 confirmed deaths linked to dangerous opioid in ’15 and ’16 spark emergency action

NOV 10 (WASHINGTON) – Responding to the imminent threat to public health and safety, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has placed U-47700 into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, effective on November 14th.  Emergency scheduling of dangerous drugs such as U-47700 on a temporary basis is one of the most significant tools DEA can utilize to address the problems.associated with deadly new street drugs. (DEA Public Affairs, Washington, 10.11.2016)


Tincture of opium for treating opioid dependence: a systematic review of safety and efficacy.

Nikoo, M., Nikoo, N., Anbardan, S. J., Amiri, A., Vogel, M., Choi, F., Sepehry, A. A., Bagheri Valoojerdi, A. H., Jang, K., Schütz, C., Akhondzadeh, S., and Krausz, M.

(2017) Addiction, 112: 415–429. doi: 10.1111/add.13628.