The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimate that in the United States, 25.3 million adults have chronic pain. A person is said to have chronic pain when they feel pain every day for 3 months. Another 40 million U.S. individuals experience severe levels of pain. This drug such as morphine and fentanyl are routinely prescribed to treat the “major public health problem” that is chronic pain, but over-prescription of this drug has also led to a public health crisis. This drug activate reward centers in the brain, which makes them highly addictive. In the U.S., over 2 million people have developed “substance use disorders” as a result of being prescribed this drug pain relievers.
Additionally, in the long-term, opioids may not even be useful for treating chronic pain, because the body becomes tolerant to the drugs. Also, this drug can make the body even more sensitive to pain, and some studies have shown that they can raise the risk of chronic pain in the long run. In this context, the need for creating safer alternatives to opioids is dire. New research brings some much-needed hope, as a modified form of a botulinum toxin is proved to be safe and effective for treating chronic pain in rodents. Maria Maiarù, who is a research associate in the Cell & Developmental Biology department at the University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom, is the lead author of the paper. The findings have now been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.