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Papers of the Week

Papers: 11 May 2024 - 17 May 2024

2024 May 16

Br J Clin Pharmacol


Glial modulators as novel therapeutics for comorbid pain and opioid use disorder.


Schwartz EKC, De Aquino JP, Sofuoglu M


Chronic pain and opioid use disorder (OUD) are major public health problems, with rising opioid-related overdose deaths linked to increased opioid prescriptions for pain management. Novel treatment approaches for these commonly comorbid disorders are needed. Growing evidence supports a role for glial activation for both chronic pain and substance use disorders, including OUD. This review provides an overview of glial modulators as a novel treatment approach for comorbid pain and OUD. We aim to synthesize clinical studies investigating the efficacy of glial modulators in treating these comorbid disorders. We conducted a literature search of PubMed and Google Scholar databases in October 2023 to identify relevant clinical trials. The included studies varied in terms of patient population, study methodology and outcomes assessed, and were often limited by small sample sizes and other methodological issues. Additionally, several glial modulators have yet to be studied for chronic pain and OUD. Despite these limitations, these studies yielded positive signals that merit further investigation. Both chronic pain and OUD remain significant public health problems, with many treatment challenges. Glial modulators continue to hold promise as novel therapeutics for comorbid pain and OUD, given positive indications that they can improve pain measures, and reduce addiction-related outcomes. As our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the contributions of glial modulators to pain and addiction behaviours deepens, we will be better equipped to identify more specific therapeutic targets for chronic pain and OUD.