Researchers are testing new drugs that could relieve cancer pain without causing many side effects, according to a study presented at the University of Leicester.

The early experiments, led by Professors David Lambert and David Rowbotham at the University of Leicester, as well as Doctors Guerrini, Calo and Professor Salvadori from the University of Ferrara in Italy, were designed to make new drugs that could relieve cancer pain with fewer side effects than current pain treatments.

The new group of drugs is designed to produce pain relief by acting at two targets simultaneously to provide effective pain relief with less tolerance. “Pain is a very complicated condition, whose control and relief could be achieved with the use of drugs that act on two different targets in order to obtain pain relief more effectively,” explained Dr. Guerrini.

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According to background information provided in the press release announcing the research, the use of drugs like morphine currently produces side effects such as tolerance which usually results in an increased dose of morphine, which in turn means that patients experience more of the drug’s side effects.

“Tolerance to strong painkillers like morphine involves complicated biological processes, aspects of which still remain questionable,” said Nikolaos Dietis, the PhD research student who is currently working on the project. “Our research may provide some answers by designing new drugs that have multiple roles. We are now studying these drugs to see what they do in the long-term.”

The researcher team noted that the project could lead to further development of these new drugs that could even lead to future trials on cancer patients.

“We need to further refine the work to enable studies to be performed in patients,” Professor Rowbotham concluded. “This may be a relatively long-term process, but it offers a completely new approach to pain management for cancer patients in the future.”