Nigel Bunnett, PhD: Reducing Pain as a Side Effect of IBD Treatment

April 14, 2021
Kenny Walter

Kenny Walter is an editor with HCPLive. Prior to joining MJH Life Sciences in 2019, he worked as a digital reporter covering nanotechnology, life sciences, material science and more with R&D Magazine. He graduated with a degree in journalism from Temple University in 2008 and began his career as a local reporter for a chain of weekly newspapers based on the Jersey shore. When not working, he enjoys going to the beach and enjoying the shore in the summer and watching North Carolina Tar Heel basketball in the winter.

Dr. Nigel Bunnett talks about future plans to test a new IBD treatment.

Pain can be a difficult byproduct of many treatments, including treatments for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Researchers from the New York University College of Dentistry and Queen’s University are soon planning to move forward with a new study testing a targeted opioid called NFEPP to treat the diseased tissues of IBD patients without having to effect the healthy tissues that could cause some of the painful side effects.

When treating chronic pain for IBD, opioids target opioid receptors, including the mu opioid receptor. However, when these treatments activate the mu opioid receptor in healthy tissues they can cause severe and potentially life-threatening side effects, including difficulty breathing, constipation, sedation, and addiction.

Senior study author Nigel Bunnett, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Pathobiology at NYU College of Dentistry, explained in an interview with HCPLive®, how the treatment will target only the diseased tissues of patients in an effort to stave off pain.

Bunnett said initial research is promising for patients with ulcerative colitis and if proven safe and effective it should also be used to treat Crohn’s disease.

The next step will be to test human tissue samples before ultimately moving forward with human trials. Bunnett also said if successful the treatment could be an option for other pain states, including cancer.