Australian researchers from the University of Adelaide have made a discovery that will change the views on anesthetics and the treatment of drug addiction.
Morphine has become the object of scientific attention since it is used in medicine as a painkiller. It blocks the pain signal, gives a feeling of euphoria, but causes severe addiction. That is why doctors rarely prescribe morphine. Moreover, addiction makes the patient constantly increase the dose.
Doctors have found that morphine, like other opioids, affects special receptors of the immune system. These receptors increase the impact of the substances, both enjoyable and addictive, and it leads to addiction. The researchers used two groups of mice to inject morphine. Some rodents received pure opiate, while the others got a mixture: the drug that blocks these receptors was added to the morphine. As a result, the second group of the mice showed no signs of morphine addiction. However, they got no particular pleasure from the drug: their brain produced less dopamine that was supposed to cause euphoria.
Taking into account this experiment, the experts managed to obtain a method of using morphine purely as a painkiller, but not as a drug. It is also possible that their findings will form the basis of new ways of treating drug addiction.