Pittsburgh scientists working on non-addictive pain medication

PITTSBURGH — In a matter of years, a non-addictive pharmaceutical could be on the market, and the company developing the medication is right here in Pittsburgh.

Knopp Biosciences is working on the medication that could mean those who suffer from chronic pain may never have to fear addiction as a side effect of pain relief.

“There are different sort of switches in the body that continue to turn on and off with your sensation of pain,” Knopp CEO Mike Bozik said.

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Bozik said the idea behind the medication is to regulate nerve cells to stop excessive firing of pain signals.

“This could be a game changer down the road,” Bozik said.

That is promising news for Domenic Marks, whose daughter suffered from addiction for nine years. It was a battle that included pain medication and, eventually, heroin. Today, his daughter, Amanda, is fighting another battle.

Amanda suffered devastating complications during childbirth last July, ultimately losing her right leg. She also can't move her arms.

The threat of addiction is now real again, and Marks said to deal with the pain of her condition, Amanda is on painkillers again.

Marks is optimistic about the idea behind the new medication.

“It's another tool in the toolbox. It's one more thing that maybe somebody has to be able to use for managing pain,” Marks said.

Kelly Picchione leads the team working on the new pharmaceutical. She said the biggest challenge is dealing with the setbacks and focusing on the future, but Kelly is also very excited about the endgame the drug could mean for chronic pain sufferers.

“It can provide pain relief in a way that’s not going to have this many detrimental effects that we’re seeing on the news every day,” Picchione said.