A recent publication in Nature Medicine co-authored by Robert Bonin and Yves De Koninck offers new hope for people addicted to morphine and fentanyl. By investigating the underlying causes of withdrawal symptoms, the researchers identified a protein located in immune cells of the spinal cord called pannexin-1 as a major player, which lead them to look for drugs that block pannexin-1 as a way to alleviate symptoms. The team found a drug previously approved to treat gout, called probenecid, that worked in this way. Importantly, the drug does not affect the ability of opioids to relieve pain.
Read a recent interview with Yves De Koninck in Le Soleil newspaper about this discovery:
Read the article in Nature Medicine:
Burma NE, Bonin RP, Leduc-Pessah H, Baimel C, Cairncross ZF, Mousseau M, Shankara JV, Stemkowski PL, Baimoukhametova D, Bains JS, Antle MC, Zamponi GW, Cahill CM, Borgland SL, DeKoninck Y, Trang T. Blocking microglial pannexin-1 channels alleviates morphine withdrawal in rodents. Nat Med. 2017 Jan 30. doi: 10.1038/nm.4281.
Read the press release by University of Calgary: