University Of Toronto Logo Asphyxia, one of the major side effects produced by opioids is presumably caused by severe under-breathing and ‘respiratory arrest.’ Well, the commonly-used drug naloxone can possibly help tackle asphyxiation. Experts from the University of Toronto claim that rescuing a brain region, which controls breathing with the help of naloxone can treat asphyxiation triggered by opioid poisoning.

A small collection of cells in the medulla oblongata appears extremely vital for maintaining breathing and is sensitive to opioids. This region called the pre-Bötzinger Complex seems to cause asphyxia under the influence of opioids. The cells in this region of the medulla oblongata supposedly affected by opioids have a chemical constitution that is distinct from other cells in this region.

Prof. Richard Horner, of the Department of Medicine, Department of Physiology and the Canada Research Chair in Sleep and Respiratory Neurobiology and colleagues presume that such a strategy can preserve the beneficial painkilling properties of naloxone and simultaneously prevent the potentially lethal side effect of respiratory arrest. All through the investigation, scientists aimed to specifically target these cells for reactivating them in the presence of opioids. It was concluded that the drug naloxone can help patients with respiratory illnesses. The research findings can aid in introducing treatments for respiratory depression without reducing the beneficial analgesic properties of opioid drugs.

The research is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.