Pain from inflammation sidelines thousands of Americans each year. Many face a tough choice: deal with the pain, take a potentially addictive opioid or use a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that may increase risk for cardiovascular disease or gastrointestinal bleeding.
Now, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered a compound thought to be non-addictive and safe for the heart and gastrointestinal system that reduces inflammatory pain in mice and rats. They call the compound Alda-1.
The researchers have been working with Alda-1 for more than five years. They discovered it while searching for the reason that moderate drinkers have less-severe heart attacks than non-drinkers or heavy alcohol drinkers. They found that alcohol increases the activity of an enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase 2. This enzyme breaks down a by-product of alcohol called acetaldehyde, forming free radicals that can damage cells. The enzyme also breaks down additional toxic aldehydes that are formed in the body because of oxidative stress, such as that occurring during a heart attack. Alda-1, an abbreviation for aldehyde dehydrogenase activator 1, kicks the enzyme into high gear, allowing it to break down toxic aldehydes more quickly and leaving less time for them to cause damage. (Coincidentally, Alda is also the name of Mochly-Rosen