A drug that failed to treat osteoarthritis pain could be used for opioid addiction treatment.
Indiana University researchers found a compound, known as LY2828360, has the potential to prevent opioid addiction, reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms and be used in place of opioids to treat neuropathic pain. This compound could also be on the market relatively quickly because it has already been proven to be safe for people.
Drug manufacturer Eli Lilly and Co. created the compound to treat osteoarthritis pain. During human trials, the compound was found ineffective. That’s what piqued the interest of Ken Mackie, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at IU.
People generally thought different drugs that activate the same receptor stimulate the same signaling pathways in a cell. Researchers in Mackie’s lab found this wasn’t the case for a certain type of receptor involved in pain sensation, known as cannabinoid receptor type 2 or CB2. Mackie thought this discovery could be used to determine why pain drugs failed.
“We didn’t go into this thinking about opioids,” he said.
Mackie got the experimental compound from Eli Lilly in 2014. He began working with Andrea Hohmann, who uses mice to study the mechanisms and develop treatment for pain in her lab at IU.