Nalfurafine: A Potential Drug in Reducing Opioid Use

A researcher at WVU named Shane Kaski is studying Nalfurafine in animal models. In these models, Nalfurafine, a drug commonly found in anti-itch creams, is showing to enhance the analgesic effects of morphine. Kaski resports that even very low doses of Nalfurafine along side low doses of Morphine show analgesic effects similar to that of high doses of Morphine. This does not necessarily mean that Nalfurafine has any significant analgesic potential on its own or that it can be used in place of other commonly prescribed opioid drugs but it shows potential in having dose-sparing effects in combination with other opioids like Morphine. Nalfurafine’s properties are in part due to the fact that it is a kappa-opioid receptor agonist. The results of this is still achieving analgesia while having fewer undesirable effects and outcomes like nausea, constipation, and potential for addiction. One of the effects of morphine, a mu-opioid agonist, is euphoria, while many kappa-opioid agonists tend to cause dysphoria and anxiety. Morphine and Nalfurafine given in combination were shown to balance one another out, basically dramatically reducing the euphoric, addictive effects seen in morphine and drastically reducing the anxiety-inducing effects seen in Nalfurafine. These findings have not been tested in clinical trials in humans yet but seems to have potential in the animal models where they have been tested so far.


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