Monday March 18, 2019

New Blood Test For Pain May Help Combat Opioid Epidemic

"We have developed a prototype for a blood test that can objectively tell doctors if the patient is in pain, and how severe that pain is," Alexander Niculescu, Professor of Psychiatry at Indiana University, said.

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"We have developed a prototype for a blood test that can objectively tell doctors if the patient is in pain, and how severe that pain is," Alexander Niculescu, Professor of Psychiatry at Indiana University, said. Pixabay

A one-of-its-kind blood test to measure pain in patients could open the door to precision medicine and help stem the tide of the opioid crisis, say researchers.

Until now, to assess pain – a subjective sensation – doctors had to rely on patients self-reporting or the clinical symptoms.

But the novel blood test can help objectively determine how severe a patient’s pain is, allowing physicians far more accuracy in treating it.

“We have developed a prototype for a blood test that can objectively tell doctors if the patient is in pain, and how severe that pain is,” Alexander Niculescu, Professor of Psychiatry at Indiana University, said.

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“The biomarker is like a fingerprint, and we match it against this database and see which compound would normalise the signature,” Niculescu said. Pixabay

With an opioid epidemic raging, Niculescu said never has there been a more important time to administer drugs to patients responsibly.

“The opioid epidemic occurred because addictive medications were overprescribed as there was no objective to measure whether someone was in pain, or how severe their pain was,” Niculescu said, in a paper detailed in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

In addition to providing an objective measure of pain, the blood test helps physicians match the biomarkers in the patient’s blood with potential treatment options.

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Until now, to assess pain – a subjective sensation – doctors had to rely on patients self-reporting or the clinical symptoms. VOA

The researchers utilise a prescription database to match the pain biomarkers with profiles of drugs and natural compounds catalogued in the database.

“The biomarker is like a fingerprint, and we match it against this database and see which compound would normalise the signature,” Niculescu said.

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“We have been able to match biomarkers with existing medications, or natural compounds, which would reduce or eliminate the need to use the opioids.”

Moreover, the team discovered biomarkers that can also help predict when someone might experience pain in the future – helping to determine if a patient is exhibiting chronic, long-term pain, which might result in future emergency room visits. (IANS)

 

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To Fight The U.S. Opioid Epidemic, Bloomberg Donates $50Mn

Bloomberg, who has been an independent, a Republican and a Democrat, declared lifetime allegiance to the Democratic Party.

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Opioid Epidemic
Former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg speaks to the media in Jackson, Miss., Nov. 29, 2018. Bloomberg’s philanthropy has announced a $50 million donation to help fight the nation’s opioid epidemic. VOA

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s charity has announced a $50 million donation to help fight the nation’s opioid epidemic.

Bloomberg Philanthropies said over the next three years it will help up to 10 states address the causes of opioid addiction and strengthen prevention and treatment programs. Its initiative involves a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Johns Hopkins University and Vital Strategies.

Bloomberg, who has been considering a 2020 Democratic presidential bid, was expected to discuss the funding Friday during his keynote address at The Bloomberg American Health Summit in Washington. A spokeswoman said there was “no stated link” between his political aspirations and the $50 million investment to fight opioids.

Bloomberg’s charity said CDC data shows there were more than 70,000 U.S. drug overdose deaths last year, including more than 47,000 from opioids, the highest numbers on record. It said those numbers are a leading factor in the decline of U.S. life expectancy over the past three years.

Bloomberg called the sobering numbers part of “a national crisis.”

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Cataldo Ambulance medics and other first responders revive a 32-year-old man who was found unresponsive and not breathing after an opioid overdose on a sidewalk in the Boston suburb of Everett, Massachusetts, Aug. 23, 2017. VOA

“For the first time since World War I, life expectancy in the U.S. has declined over the past three years — and opioids are a big reason why,” he said. “We cannot sit by and allow this alarming trend to continue — not when so many Americans are being killed in what should be the prime of their lives.”

He said in a statement he hoped his charity’s work in Pennsylvania, one of the states hardest hit by the opioids crisis, would lay the groundwork “for more effective action across the country.”

The partnership focuses on identifying new approaches to tackle opioids and plugging gaps in current treatment and prevention programs. Staff members from partner organizations will support state and local programs to reduce opioid-related deaths, and successful initiatives and guidelines will be replicated elsewhere, with the goal of creating a model for the rest of the nation.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said he was “deeply grateful” for the financial and technical resources his state will receive through the partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Melania Trump, epidemic
Melania Trump calls opioid epidemic ‘worst drug crisis’ in US.

“From our first responders and health care professionals to teachers and social service providers, heroes across our commonwealth are saving lives and protecting residents in our communities every day from this awful scourge,” Wolf, a Democrat, said in a statement issued by the Bloomberg charity. “We are doing everything we can to help them, and I am confident that this partnership will mark a turning point in our efforts.”

Also Read: Melania Trump Calls Opioid Epidemic The ‘Worst Drug Crisis’ in American Histroy

The Drug Enforcement Administration said this month in its National Drug Threat Assessment that heroin, fentanyl and other opioids continue to be the highest drug threat in the nation.

Bloomberg, who has been an independent, a Republican and a Democrat, declared lifetime allegiance to the Democratic Party and outlined an aggressive timeline for deciding whether to run for president in an interview with The Associated Press this month. He has regularly criticized President Donald Trump and spent a fortune to help elect Democrats in the midterm elections. (VOA)