Human Saliva has a painkilling substance that has been lately come to knowledge of the researchers, which is up to six times more potent than morphine when tested in rats. Interestingly, it is produced naturally by the human body. These unique types of painkillers are extremely rare, and researchers hope that this current finding might be harnessed as a clinical treatment.
Naturally produced painkillers might prove to be a helping hand to ignore some of the side effects worldly wise by patients cured with synthetic compounds such as morphine, involving addiction and tolerance with prolonged use. But the recently developed substance will initially have to be tested to confirm whether it will be an effective drug, experts warn.
The compound seems to work by prolonging the body’s own defenses against pain, this is further explained by Catherine Rougeot of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France, and her colleagues. It does so by averting the breakdown of chemicals called enkephalins, which as a result trigger opiate receptors that block agony signals from reaching the brain.
Rougeot’s team tracked down the new compound after formerly discovering a similar natural painkiller found in rats, called sialorphin. They speculated if humans might manufacture something alike — and by analyzing samples of saliva, hit upon opiorphin.
This is the first natural substance to be established in humans that exploits this mechanism to relieve discomfort and pain. Although, it is uncertain that opiorphin normally has a painkilling role in the human body. The substance could accomplish a general role in protecting chemicals in the body from being broken down.
Opiorphin is such a simple molecule that it should be possible to synthesise it and produce large quantities without having to isolate it from saliva. Alternatively, it might be possible to find drugs which trigger patients’ bodies to produce more of the molecule themselves.