Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Opiates and cannaboids the fight against pain


Opiates and cannaboids, apart from being drugs, have curative properties. Thus, opiates (morphine, methadone, etc.) have been used for some time as a pain-reducer and many cannaboids have also analgesic properties.

Regarding their curative aspects, it is very important to know the effects produced after a prolonged period of treatment. Carrying out this analysis with opiates and cannabinoids, two important problems arise: given that they are drugs, they create psychological dependency and, in the long term, physical dependency and tolerance appears.

Psychological dependency involves the need to consume the drug while physical tolerance, on the other hand, means a cellular adaptation. Apart from the two dependencies, however, the tolerance effect is of great importance, for example in the case of pain. Tolerance appears when the drug loses its effect, i.e., when the body gets used to the medication, and then the pain-killing process begins to disappear. Thus, in order to achieve the same effect, to eliminate pain, the dose to be supplied to the patient has to be greater.

The hypothesis of a solution

According to a research team at the Pharmacy Faculty at the Basque University at Leioa (Bizkaia) Campus, one of the keys to the problem presented by opiates and cannabinoids could lie in nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a neurotransmisor found in the brain in gaseous form. According to the hypothesis, if nitric oxide inhibitors are supplied together with the opiates and cannabinoids, the therapeutic effect is maintained and, moreover, the dependence on and tolerance to the narcotic can be avoided.

A number of results have confirmed this hypothesis; but the conclusions are not so clear-cut. For example, nitric oxide inhibitors have been shown to partially minimise tolerance but, at the same time, they increase blood pressure, because the inhibitors do not act only on the brain and so they have side reactions. This is why researchers are currently trying to find inhibitors which are specific for the brain.

Opiates have been around for some time, but cannabinoids when?

The research being carried out at Leioa is, in many aspects, innovative. Given that, although opiates have been used and studied for a long time, its mechanism of operation is still unresolved; with cannabinoids, very few studies have been carried out.

This is why the Leioa group will also carry out the greatest part of their research on the opiates, more specifically on morphine. They will analyse the effects of nitric oxide inhibitors on neuronal activity and its effect on pain. To this end, they will analyse neuronal activity at different parts (locus coeruleus and spinal medula) and, by measuring brain reflexes, they will find out if pain is felt more acutely or less so. Moreover, the reserve of receptors will be measured and their pharmacodynamic characteristics will be evaluated.

The final tests will be carried out with the cannabinoids. Their effect on the locus coeruleus will be assessed so that a subsequent measurement of the tolerance to this effect can be made.


Main researcher: Joseba Pineda Ortiz
Research-team: Mª I. Ulibarri, M. Torrecilla, M. Santamarta, A. Mendiguren, J. Llorente
Department: Pharmacology
Faculty: Medicine and Odontology Faculty (Leioa)

Garazi Andonegi | Basque research
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds

21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

The search for dark matter widens

21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Natural enemies reduce pesticide use

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>