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BU10038 as a safe opioid analgesic with fewer side-effects after systemic and intrathecal administration in primatesBackground: The marked increase in mis-use of prescription opioids has greatly affected our society. One potential solution is to develop improved analgesics which have agonist action at both mu opioid peptide (MOP) and nociceptin/orphanin FQ peptide (NOP) receptors. BU10038 is a recently identified bifunctional MOP/NOP partial agonist. The aim of this study was to determine the functional profile of systemic or spinal delivery of BU10038 in primates after acute and chronic administration. Methods: A series of behavioural and physiological assays have been established specifically to reflect the therapeutic (analgesia) and side-effects (abuse potential, respiratory depression, itch, physical dependence, and tolerance) of opioid analgesics in rhesus monkeys. Results: After systemic administration, BU10038 (0.001–0.01 mg kg−1) dose-dependently produced long-lasting antinociceptive and antihypersensitive effects. Unlike the MOP agonist oxycodone, BU10038 lacked reinforcing effects (i.e. little or no abuse liability), and BU10038 did not compromise the physiological functions of primates including respiration, cardiovascular activities, and body temperature at antinociceptive doses and a 10–30-fold higher dose (0.01–0.1 mg kg−1). After intrathecal administration, BU10038 (3 μg) exerted morphine-comparable antinociception and antihypersensitivity without itch scratching responses. Unlike morphine, BU10038 did not cause the development of physical dependence and tolerance after repeated and chronic administration. Conclusions: These in vivo findings demonstrate the translational potential of bifunctional MOP/NOP receptor agonists such as BU10038 as a safe, non-addictive analgesic with fewer side-effects in primates. This study strongly supports that bifunctional MOP/NOP agonists may provide improved analgesics and an alternative solution for the ongoing prescription opioid crisis.
A novel orvinol analog, BU08028, as a safe opioid analgesic without abuse liability in primatesDespite the critical need, no previous research has substantiated safe opioid analgesics without abuse liability in primates. Recent advances in medicinal chemistry have led to the development of ligands with mixed mu opioid peptide (MOP)/nociceptin-orphanin FQ peptide (NOP) receptor agonist activity to achieve this objective. BU08028 is a novel orvinol analog that displays a similar binding profile to buprenorphine with improved affinity and efficacy at NOP receptors. The aim of this preclinical study was to establish the functional profile of BU08028 in monkeys using clinically used MOP receptor agonists for side-by-side comparisons in various wellhoned behavioral and physiological assays. Systemic BU08028 (0.001-0.01 mg/kg) produced potent long-lasting (i.e., >24 h) antinociceptive and antiallodynic effects, which were blocked by MOP or NOP receptor antagonists. More importantly, the reinforcing strength of BU08028 was significantly lower than that of cocaine, remifentanil, or buprenorphine in monkeys responding under a progressive-ratio schedule of drug self-administration. Unlike MOP receptor agonists, BU08028 at antinociceptive doses and ?10-to 30-fold higher doses did not cause respiratory depression or cardiovascular adverse events as measured by telemetry devices. After repeated administration, the monkeys developed acute physical dependence on morphine, as manifested by precipitated withdrawal signs, such as increased respiratory rate, heart rate, and blood pressure. In contrast, monkeys did not show physical dependence on BU08028. These in vivo findings in primates not only document the efficacy and tolerability profile of bifunctional MOP/NOP receptor agonists, but also provide a means of translating such ligands into therapies as safe and potentially abusefree opioid analgesics.