Discovering Medications by Computer

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brain receptor

3D image of the brain receptor involved in the marijuana “high.”

© Yekaterina Kadyshevskaya, The Stevens Laboratory, University of Southern California

Technology is helping scientists do lots of cool things these days. For instance, they’re using the latest technology to discover medications they might never have discovered without technology.

Some of these medications could, for example, treat Alzheimer’s disease and certain types of cancer. Other medications may treat health problems while reducing a person’s risk for a substance use disorder.

A safer opioid

For example, a computer program helped researchers make a medication that works better than some opioids, which are used to treat severe or chronic (ongoing) pain. Scientists think this technology might lead to safer ways to treat people’s pain—without the risk of addiction that can result from misusing opioids.

A clearer picture

In another study, scientists used computers to develop a 3D image of the brain receptor involved in the “high” people feel after smoking marijuana. This can help scientists learn how marijuana works in the body.

Technology is doing more than just making it easier to connect with other people; it’s also making it easier to treat health problems safely.

Learn about smart ideas from teens that could reduce drug-related deaths.

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

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