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Opioid Painkillers Could Be Replaced by Cancer Drugs

07:09 EDT 9 Aug 2017 | Genetic Engineering News

A newly discovered pain-processing pathway could lead to alternative treatments for chronic pain. The new treatments could even make use of existing cancer drugs that block the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). This receptor, long a target in cancer therapies, has only recently received attention for its therapeutic potential against pain. A recent study implicating EGFR in pain processing found that this receptor and its natural ligand, epiregulin (EREG), interact to heighten pain perception. This finding, derived from experiments with mouse models, suggests that both EGFR and EREG could be suitable therapeutic targets for chronic pain in humans. Even if existing drugs that interfere with EGFR/EREG interactions were to fail to manage pain effectively, they could serve as a starting point for engineering more useful variants. There is likely sufficient incentive to develop alterative pain killers that could replace opioids, given that opioids carry the risk of ...

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