Opioid overdose and opioid use disorder continue to be significant public health challenges despite the availability of effective medications and significant efforts at all levels of society. The emergence of highly potent and efficacious opioids such as fentanyl and its derivatives over the last decade has only exacerbated what was already a substantial problem. Behavioral pharmacology research has proven invaluable for understanding the effects of drugs as well as developing and evaluating pharmacotherapies for disorders involving the central nervous system, including substance abuse disorders. This paper describes a program of research characterizing a potent, selective, and long-lasting mu opioid receptor antagonist, methocinnamox, and evaluating its potential for treating opioid overdose and opioid use disorder. Studies in rodents and nonhuman primates demonstrate that methocinnamox prevents and reverses opioid-induced ventilatory depression and selectively blocks opioid self-administration. This work, taken together with rigorous in vitro and ex vivo studies investigating methocinnamox neuropharmacology, lays a solid foundation for the therapeutic utility of this potentially life-saving medication. Moreover, these studies demonstrate how rigorous behavioral pharmacological studies can be integrated in a broader drug discovery and development research program.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Behavioral Neuroscience