Non-addictive painkillers could be on the way

There is no question that opiate pain killers such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan, and Ultram are addictive and harmful especially when prescribed long-term.

However, severe pain - especially chronic neuropathic pain - is often difficult to treat without the use of these types of medications.

A new study conducted at Duke University shows that a derivative of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)  a component found in common fish oil, may provide strong pain relieving effects without causing addiction and other health problems associated with opioid use.

The study was reported last week in the online issue of Annals of Neurology.

The research focused on a compound called NPD1=PD1 (neuroprotectin D1=protectin D1) a lipid substance carried by white blood cells and released in response to certain types of inflammation.

Speaking of the study’s findings, principal investigator Ru-Rong Ji, a professor of anesthesiology and neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center said: "These compounds are derived from omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, but are 1,000 times more potent than their precursors in reducing inflammation.”

The project performed with mice, showed that NPD1=PD1 was effective in both the alleviation of pain and the reduction of nerve swelling by inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, compounds capable of causing the type of nerve cell damage which produces chronic pain.

Chronic pain syndromes, many of which are associated with tissue injury, can be characterized by neuropathic (nerve associated) pain. In such cases, nerves are believed to be either damaged or dysfunctional.

Ji is hopeful that this new, safer approach to pain management can be introduced soon by offering chronic pain patients DHA through both diet and injection.

"We hope to test this compound in clinical trials. DHA is very inexpensive, and can be converted to NPD1 by an aspirin-triggered pathway," says Ji. The ultimate goal is to develop a safer approach to managing chronic pain.


It’s happening.

They used to call it global warming. Now they call it climate change. I don’t really care what they call it. It’s happening!

I’m aware of the scientific evidence. Figures provided by the EPA show that the earth's average temperature has risen by 1.4°F over the past century, and is projected to rise another 2 to 11.5°F over the next hundred years. Even slight changes in the average temperature of the planet can lead to dangerous shifts in climate and weather.

“Many places have seen changes in rainfall, resulting in more floods, droughts, or intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. The planet's oceans and glaciers have also experienced some big changes - oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising. As these and other changes become more pronounced in the coming decades, they will likely present challenges to our society and our environment,” says the EPA.

This summer has been pretty hot in the Northeast so far. It was very hot last year as well, however this is anecdotal. The idea of climate change can not be attached to a couple of hot summers in New York or Boston. There are global trends with are becoming ever more obvious.

Ireland is experience heat waves for the past two weeks. When was the last time Ireland saw this weather?

The earth in fact has always had a changing climate, long before man ever arrived on the scene. This is an evolving planet, evolving in many aspects - climate being one of them. It was only 10,000 years ago (a blink in the eye of earth’s time) when global warming led to an extreme and rapid climatic change here in the northeast, melting the glaciers and profoundly changing plant and animal life. Humans of coarse were around back then but in far few numbers to have effected such changes.

So what of the current climate changes? Are humans the cause?

No one can say so with absolute certainty. My best guess is people are part, perhaps a really large part of the equation. We have more than doubled the earth’s population in just 50 years. There are now 7 billion people on the planet who have to live and breathe here. I suppose that has at least some significant affect.

My own observation is that the climate has been changing around me in simple, practical ways for quite some time. It’s not merely the hot summers and storms. In fact, I find it is more evident in the Spring and Fall, where both seasons appear to be disappearing. And, as a result, the trees seem to have become a bit confused as when to bud and when to finally let their leaves fall to the ground.