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Could a Natural Nasal Spray Replace Addictive Opioids

Could a nasal spray actually help people avoid opioid addiction?  Researchers at the University College London say “yes” and they are moving toward testing their theory on human subjects.

When individuals need medicine for pain they are often given opioids to combat their intense pain and help them resume feeling normal.  However, as evidenced in the recently growing opioid epidemic, more and more individuals are becoming dangerously addicted to opioids and more and more overdoses are occurring.  The nasal spray tested by the researchers is a natural opioid  compound and lessens the pain while having no addictive side effects.  This is exciting news because it means that if valid, then individuals treated for pain will not become overly euphoric, tolerant, and addicted to the opioid drugs they may be given for their pain.

In the study, the researchers tested the pain-relieving  opioid nasal spray on mice and found no signs of tolerance or any signs of craving, such as reward-seeking behavior.  “If people don’t develop tolerance, you don’t have them always having to up the dose. And if they don’t have to up the dose, they won’t get closer and closer to overdose,” Ijeoma Uchegbu, a professor of pharmaceutical nanoscience who is leading the research through Nanomerics, a UCL startup, told The Guardian, in an article entitled, “Natural painkiller nasal spray could replace addictive opioids.”

The researchers have now moved to raising money for clinical trials involving humans to test their theory.  The results form their previous studies involving mice seem very hopeful and the researchers are definitely striving to find an alternative to opioid drugs such as fentanyl and oxycontin to aid in the management of pain in the future.