Editor’s Note: I recently sat in on the August virtual meeting of the board that oversees the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST), where a couple of scientists made some interesting presentations. First up was a presentation from OSU’s National Center for Wellness & Recovery, followed by Sean Bauman of Norman’s IMMY. I wrote up this report on the presentations, a portion of which was published in the Oklahoma City Journal Record business newspaper. (Subscription required)
Researchers at Oklahoma State University’s National Center for Wellness & Recovery (NCWR) are pursuing promising new molecules that could break the link between Opioid pain medications and the often-fatal side effects that accompany them, a scientist said this week.
During a presentation to the August meeting of the board that governs the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST), Don Kyle, Ph.D., said the Center has “unpublished research molecules” that show efficacy in pain relief without the common side effects of Opioids.
“New molecular approaches to treating pain outside the Opioid world, or using Opioid mechanisms in new ways are of premiere importance to develop Opioid-strength analgesics without the Opioid side-effect baggage,” said Kyle, an adjunct professor of Pharmacology and Physiology at OSU’s Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa.
Launched in 2017, the National Center for Wellness & Recovery is located on OSU’s Center for Health Sciences campus. A settlement announced last year between the State of Oklahoma and drug maker Purdue Pharma established a $200 million endowment for the Center to pursue research and treatment for Opioid addiction.
Kyle provided a historical perspective on Opioids for the OCAST board.
A graphic used in the presentation revealed that Opioids were first developed in the 1800s, but scientists didn’t discover the biological mechanisms by which they provide pain relief until the 1970s.
Efforts to develop side-effect free alternatives to Opioids have been largely unsuccessful, Kyle said.
“Look back over the past 25 or 30 years, FDA approval of new non-addictive pain medications has been disappointing,” he said. “It’s not because no one is trying.”
With discoveries of new molecules that show efficacy in pain reduction in pre-clinical trials, OSU’s National Center for Wellness & Recovery is pushing the science closer to a real alternative, he said.
“These molecules show analgesic efficacy that is comparable to morphine in animal models, but have reductions in the unwanted side effects,” Kyle said. “The bottom line is to end the Opioid crisis using scientific research.”
The OCAST board also heard a presentation from Sean Bauman, Ph.D., CEO of Norman-based IMMY, a developer and manufacturer of diagnostic tests for infectious diseases. Through a subsidiary called IMMYLabs, the company developed an FDA-approved test for COVID-19 in March to make testing more widely accessible across Oklahoma.
IMMY has since set up drive-through mobile test sites in nine communities, including Claremore, Edmond, McAlester, Midwest City, Moore, Norman, Sapulpa, Shawnee and Yukon.
“I can tell you, there is nothing else like this in the state of Oklahoma,” Bauman said. “You can make an appointment at IMMYLabs.com, pick a site, a day and an appointment time. All the data entry happens in advance of your appointment.”
The whole process takes less than 10 minutes, with diagnostic results available within two business days.
“We’re committed to fast turn-around,” Bauman said.