Opiate death investigations
The aim of these studies is to elucidate the pathophysiological and farmacological mechanisms behind opiate toxicity. Opioids are potent painkillers, and therefore extensively used to treat severe pain. However, opioids are also widely abused due to their reinforcing effects. Opioids also can cause respiratory depression, and this risk will increase as individuals increase their dose to achieve a certain level of euphoria or pain relief. Increased doses are the results of the development of tolerance. However, the time frame for development and loss of tolerance for the different effects conferred by opioids are not fully characterized. We are conducting cell culture studies, full scale animal experiments and studies on deceased opioid toxicity subjects to more closely pinpoint external and intrinsic factors that are critical for the noxious effects of opoids, and to study the mechanisms behind acute and long-term tolerance. Further, we are evaluating hybrid molecules that both act on opioid receptors and other receptor systems. Such molecules might prove to produce potent analgesic effects with less effect on respiration and less addiction potential.