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Australian researchers have created a nanotechnology for pain relief

Photo: Nanotechnology for pain relief: research
Australian researchers have created a nanoparticle that could help painkillers pinpoint and target the source of pain which could reduce the need for opioids.

Australian researchers have harnessed nanotechnology to improve painkillers' ability to target the direct source of pain in the body.

Monash University researchers have created a nanoparticle drug carrier that can bypass the nerve cell surface, a report published in Nature Nanotechnology on Tuesday says.

This allows the nanoparticle drug carrier to interrupt the pain signal from within the cell, allowing greater relief from pain, with lower drug doses and fewer side effects.

"When we take painkillers, these drugs freely distribute throughout the body, to not only block pain but also act on other tissues to produce side-effects," Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD candidate Paulina Ramirez-Garcia said.
"To overcome this, we harnessed nanotechnology to design nanoparticles that can selectively deliver drugs to these internal pain transmitting centres, concentrating the drug inside neurons where it is most effective at stopping the pain signal."

Researchers developed the new technology in the hope of replacing existing methods of pain relief such as opioids, which can have serious side-effects.

Co-researcher Dr Nicholas Veldhuis says this technology has potential to address the growing global opioid epidemic.

"While opioids are still a highly effective treatment for debilitating pain, the risk of long-term dependence and other unwanted side effects can be damaging for individuals and families," Dr Veldhuis said.

"If we can use existing drugs in a more targeted away, there is significant potential to provide chronic pain sufferers with a non-opioid treatment option for pain relief."

The study also involved researchers from the University of Queensland and international universities the University of Santiago (Chile) and Columbia University (USA).

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