A substance similar to capsaicin, which gives chili peppers their heat, is generated at the site of pain in the human body. Scientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio have discovered how to block these capsaicin-like molecules and created a new class of non-addictive painkillers.
The findings were published April 26 in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.
The senior investigator was Kenneth Hargreaves, D.D.S., Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Endodontics in the Dental School at the UT Health Science Center. Amol M. Patwardhan, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., a graduate of the Health Science Center’s Department of Pharmacology who worked under Dr. Hargreaves’ supervision, is the lead author.
“Nearly everyone will experience persistent pain at some point in their lifetime,” Dr. Hargreaves said. “Our findings are truly exciting because they will offer physicians, dentists and patients more options in prescription pain medications. In addition, they may help circumvent the problem of addiction and dependency to pain medications, and will have the potential to benefit millions of people who suffer from chronic pain every day.”