BPoD has moved!

BPoD has recently changed our domain name - we can now be found at bpod.org.uk

Please update your bookmarks!

Now in our 13th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Search the archive of over 4000 images

Opioid Alternatives

Drugs that reduce pain molecule BH4 are promising alternatives to highly addictive opioids for treating pain

12 October 2022

Opioid Alternatives

Pain, whether intense or mild, brief or chronic, is detected by specialised sensory neurons that relay signals to the brain. When pain is bad or persistent enough to warrant painkillers, opioids are among the most effective at blocking this signal relay. But these drugs are highly addictive and, at high doses, can lower heart rate and breathing to a fatal degree. In looking for safer, non-addictive painkillers, scientists have screened thousands of existing drugs with various uses to find ones that act on sensory neurons (green) to reduce production of a known pain molecule, BH4 (magenta). Cells expressing BH4 appear magenta and/or white. In addition to some drugs with known analgesic effects, researchers found a schizophrenia drug that, at low doses, suppressed BH4 production. If this, or other BH4-lowering substances, can be further developed, it may be possible to have painkillers as powerful as opioids but without the devastating downsides.

Written by Ruth Williams

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

Follow on Tumblr

Follow on Instagram

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.