Published Saturday, August 18, 2018

The National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded a five-year, $3.68 million grant to two Scripps Research scientists, Laura Bohn, PhD, and Thomas Bannister, PhD, to advance their work developing safer pain medications.

Previously, Bohn and Bannister, based in Jupiter, Florida, had developed new compounds that separate the powerful pain-relieving benefit of opioids from the life-threatening side-effect of decreased breathing rate and lower blood-oxygen levels. The new round of funding enables the team to further improve these compounds while also evaluating the extent to which other common opioid side effects, including constipation, drug tolerance, and especially addiction risk, are inherently altered in these new compounds, with an eye toward further widening the safety margins.

“We want to determine if these compounds produce drug preference, which is a sign of abuse potential, and to make new compounds that have built-in abuse deterrence — to control pain without the risk of addiction,” Bohn says.

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