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Preferring the fetal brain

Selectively targeting the fetal brain to prevent neonatal opioid dependence

A team at Ohio State University has shown that an opioid antagonist readily enters a fetus' brain but has limited entry into an adult brain, raising the prospect that a peripherally selective compound could be used to prevent or reduce neonatal opioid dependence without compromising the mother.

The idea is to avoid interfering with treatment for pregnant women with opioid dependence, which usually involves managed maintenance with methadone or buprenorphine. Although effective in the mother, the managed maintenance strategy doesn't prevent opioid dependence in the infant upon birth, which results in neonatal abstinence syndrome, often leads to premature birth, and causes a range of other symptoms that require extended stays in ICUs.

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  • THE DISTILLERY brings you this week's most essential scientific findings in therapeutics, distilled by Innovations editors from a weekly review of more than 400 papers in 41 of the highest-impact journals in the fields of biotechnology, the life sciences and chemistry. The Distillery goes beyond the abstracts to explain the commercial relevance of featured research, including licensing status and companies working in the field, where applicable.

    This week in therapeutics includes important research findings on targets and compounds, grouped first by disease class and then alphabetically by indication.

    This week in techniques includes findings about research tools, disease models and manufacturing processes that have the potential to enable or improve all stages of drug discovery and development.

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