Nigel Bunnett, PhD: Targeted Opioid for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

April 6, 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.

Researchers are preparing to study the treatment in IBD patients.

Researchers are touting a new targeted opioid that could treat the diseased tissues of patients with inflammatory bowel disease without yielding some of the harmful and painful side effects often seen with treatments.

A research team from New York University College of Dentistry and Queen's University, are hoping to begin clinical trials on a novel opioid called NFEPP involving both human tissue and human subjects to test the targeted opioid that spares health tissues from pain.

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®, that promising preclinical results will allow the research team to move forward with later phase studies on the targeted opioid.

Bunnett said the treatment should ultimately be effective in both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis patients and could eventually offer pain relief without side effects for a number of other diseases and conditions, including cancer.


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