A Rutgers neuroscientist is working to develop a non-opioid pain medication that—if successful—could provide relief to patients without the risk of addiction. David Barker, a professor in the Department of Psychology, School of Arts and Sciences, studies the pathways in the brain involved with psychiatric disorders with the goal of finding effective treatments.

His work has recently focused on a receptor—a key protein for communication in the brain—that shows promise in promoting pain relief without triggering the addictive response associated with opioid receptors. Addiction to opioid prescription painkillers has fueled a public health crisis over decades that has destroyed lives and devastated communities. Barker cautioned that his work is in its early stages, and that more hurdles need to be cleared, including finding a drug compound that targets and binds to the receptor so that it sends out its chemical message to other cells in the body. To read the full story.