Sarah Cooper, Instructor of Biology, co-authored "Opioid Analgesics and Pain Management" with Jeffery McDonald ’10. The paper appeared in the Journal of the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society in spring 2012.
One of the highest priorities of modern medicine is the control of pain and opioid analgesics have been intensely studied for decades because of their unique ability to modulate moderate to severe pain. A dramatic increase in the knowledge of the mechanisms of opioid action has taken place in the last two decades making possible increased research and greater understanding of the properties of this class of drugs.
Continued research into morphine-like drug antagonists may result in reducing the pain associated with inflammation, ameliorating the desire for the unhealthy consumption of calorie rich foods, stopping the tendency of susceptible people to become alcoholics, and reversing the potentially debilitating immune suppression and bowel dysfunction that are currently associated with opioid drug use. There is much to be gained by increasing our understanding of the mechanisms of opioid activity in living systems. The hope is that ultimately it may be possible to individualize opioid analgesic therapy, taking into account each patient’s unique genetic background, and making it possible to select the right opioid, administer it at the optimal dose and on an appropriate schedule to maximize the analgesic effects for each patient and minimize the adverse effects of these very powerful and interesting drugs.