Got Pain? Researchers Have Some Ideas That May Surprise You
WebMD News Archive
The lowly snail is making headlines, too, with reports that venom from the
cone snail, which lives on the coast of the Philippines, is a potent drug for
relieving pain after surgery and some types of chronic pain. Researchers at
Johns Hopkins University and elsewhere have used a compound from the venom --
and say it is a thousand times more potent than morphine, and an option for
very ill patients who do not respond to morphine.
Then there is the poisonous Ecuadorian frog known as Epipedobates
tricolor, which secretes a substance on its skin to kill predators. The
substance possesses pain-relieving properties hundreds of times more potent
than morphine, but is too poisonous for human use. The drug company Abbott
Laboratories has developed a synthetic version of the substance that is being
tested for both acute and chronic pain.
A promising treatment for diabetes-related pain is a drug known as
Prosaptide TX14A, developed by John S. O'Brien, MD, a professor of neuroscience
at the University of California in San Diego. Myelos Neuroscience of San Diego
has completed early tests of the drug in 150 patients.
"We saw very good efficacy results and very good safety results with no
significant adverse events," Robert Schuessler, director of clinical and
regulatory affairs at Myelos, tells WebMD. The company believes the daily
injection works on the underlying cause of the pain, but stresses that this is
a theory based on animal testing. If future studies confirm the safety and
efficacy of the drug, the company plans to file an application for approval
with the FDA.
Some researchers are also looking at ways to use gene therapy to deliver
drugs to specific pain sites in the body. And, there is hope that new methods
of diagnosing the specific cause of an individual's pain will soon be
available, allowing doctors to use that information in selecting pain-killing
- Current therapies used to treat pain include drugs that suppress
inflammation, which work for mild to moderate pain, or narcotic agents, which
can be addictive.
- With so few choices for treatment, pain is often difficult to treat
- New research into pain treatments is focusing on compounds from marijuana,
hot peppers, snail venom, and secretions from a poisonous frog.