Alpha – 2 Drugs

Pharmaceutical agents known as alpha-2 drugs are used as tranquillisers and anaesthetic premedication for animals. They activate alpha-2 adrenoreceptors in the body. Their effect, targeted at the central nervous system, is to reduce alertness and pain sensation. In addition to their desired effect, alpha-2 drugs have less desired effects: For example, they constrict the blood vessels and slow down the heart rate, and interfere the blood glucose balance.

A research project conducted by the research group was aimed at identifying a means to prevent or alleviate the adverse effects of alpha-2 drugs. As a result, we found an antagonist, which inhibits the activation of the alpha-2 adrenoreceptors located outside the central nervous system. Our group has demonstrated that the antagonist is capable of preventing or eliminating adverse effects associated with alpha-2 drugs without significantly reducing their sedative or pain-relieving effects. Several international articles have been published on the project concerning studies carried out on, for example, dogs, horses and sheep, and a number of doctoral theses have been written about it.

Our drug invention has been patented, and the University of Helsinki has sold its rights of exploitation to a business that will be commercialising our invention. We will carry on our investigations on the effects of our drug discovery in a range of indications in many animal species, including dogs, horses and wildlife. Our productive research efforts and drug discovery will improve the safety of sedation and anaesthesia for a number of species.

Group members:

Professor Outi Vainio and

Docent Marja Raekallio

Recognition and alleviation of animal pain

To be able to effectively relieve pain in animals, it must first be recognised and identified. Animals express pain in species-specific ways, and in many species pain can be difficult to perceive. We investigate the effects of a range of clinical pain states on animal behaviour, movement and physiological variables, as well as the changes perceivable in them when relieving pain with drugs or by treating the cause. Another topic of our research is relieving pain experienced during and after surgery and other procedures as effectively as possible. In addition, we study how the progress of painful states can be prevented. The ability to accurately assess pain in animals and its severity enables the identification of the need for pain relief and monitoring of the efficacy of pain-relieving drugs and therapies.
Explore the pain-related research project carried out at the Faculty.