University of Arizona Develops Non-Opioid Compound for Pain Relief

Non-opioid compound from U of Arizona
(Image Credit: University of Arizona)

University of Arizona researchers say they are close to developing a non-opioid compound for pain relief treatment with significantly reduces the sensation of pain. This compound is said to have strong pain relief properties but also does not cause addiction.

The research team was led by Rajesh Khanna, Ph.D. who studied reduced pain by regulating a biological channel linked to pain. The compound is called Regulonix Compound 194, can be combined with small doses of morphine to get rid of its addictive qualities while still preserving its ability for pain relief. The preclinical lab tests performed on animals proved that Compound 194 was an effective yet not addictive as a pain relief treatment.

The researchers also found that Compound 194 may help relieve pain by activating the body’s natural opioid system. This would result in positive effects such as pain relief without severing the body’s motor controls or causing addiction.

The National Institutes of Health state that approximately 100 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain. In addition, around 21-29% of patients who are prescribed opioids for pain relief end up abusing the medication. With the development of this new compound, Khanna hopes to help fight the opioid epidemic by providing a safe and effective pain relief solution.

NaV1.7 is a sodium ion channel that is present at the endings of pain-sensing nerves. In the experiments, Compound 194 was used to regulate the activation of NaV1.7 by blocking certain enzymes and proteins from interacting. The team selected less than 50 samples close to the enzyme Ubc9 and tested them in Dr. Khanna’s laboratory. It was found that the presence of this enzyme would reduce the amount of sodium flowing through the NaV1.7.

A series of tests were conducted on animals of both sexes using Coumpoun194 and the results were promising. These tests were found to be successful in animals where the compound was able to relieve pain in six different pain models.

While Regulonix Compound 194 has shown great potential as a non-opioid pain relief solution, it still must be optimized and further improved on. Khanna and the researchers are working with the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) to improve the compound’s half-life which is crucial for obtaining a Food and Drug Administration approval. As a result, this will let the researchers begin conducting clinical trials in April 2022.