Opiate death investigations
The aim of these studies is to elucidate the pathophysiological and pharmacological 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. Further 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 using genomic and biochemical methods to study opioid tolerance and toxicity mechanisms. Our focus is to pinpoint external and intrinsic factors that are critical for the noxious effects of opioids, and to study the mechanisms behind acute and long-term tolerance.