Researchers develop potentially safer general anesthetic

July 27, 2009 by Sue McGreevey

(PhysOrg.com) -- A team of Harvard Medical School (HMS) researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has developed a new general anesthetic that may be safer for critically ill patients. In the August issue of Anesthesiology, they describe preclinical studies of the drug called MOC-etomidate - a chemically altered version of an existing anesthetic - which does not cause the sudden drop in blood pressure seen with most anesthetics or prolonged suppression of adrenal gland activity, a problem with the original version of the drug.

“We have shown that making a version of etomidate that is broken down very quickly in the body reduces the duration of adrenal suppression while retaining etomidate’s benefit of keeping blood pressure much more stable than other do,” said HMS associate professor of Douglas Raines of the MGH Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, who led the study.

Almost all general anethetic agents reduce blood pressure immediately after they are administered, which is not a problem for young and healthy patients but can have serious consequences for those who are elderly, critically ill, or suffering from blood loss. For such patients, etomidate is often used to induce anesthesia, but since adrenal suppression sets in quickly and can last for several hours to days, other agents are used to maintain anesthesia during a procedure, requiring very careful monitoring to avoid dangerous blood pressure drops.

In their search for a safer version of etomidate, the research team mimicked the chemical structure of other “soft analogue” drugs - derivatives of parent drugs designed to be rapidly metabolized - by adding a molecule that causes the drug to broken down by natural enzymes soon after producing its effects. Experiments in tadpoles and rats showed that the new agent, MOC-etomidate, quickly produced anesthesia from which the animals recovered rapidly after administration ceased. The rat study verified that MOC-etomidate had little effect on blood pressure levels and no effect on adrenal activity, even when administered at twice the dosage required to produce anesthesia.

The researchers note that, since the study only examined the effect of a single dose of MOC-etomidate, their next step will be to study continuous infusion of the drug. Additional data must be gathered from animal studies before testing the agent in human patients is feasible. “If all goes well, we expect that we could give a large dose of MOC-etomidate to induce anesthesia and then run a continuous infusion to maintain anesthesia without reducing in even very sick patients,” Raines says. “We also anticipate that patients will wake more quickly and with less sedation after surgery and anesthesia.”

More information: journals.lww.com/anesthesiology/pages/default.aspx

Provided by Harvard University (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Engineered protein treatment found to reduce obesity in mice, rats and primates

October 19, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers with pharmaceutical company Amgen Inc. report that an engineered version of a protein naturally found in the body caused test mice, rats and cynomolgus monkeys to lose weight. In their ...

New procedure enables cultivation of human brain sections in the petri dish

October 19, 2017
Researchers at the University of Tübingen have become the first to keep human brain tissue alive outside the body for several weeks. The researchers, headed by Dr. Niklas Schwarz, Dr. Henner Koch and Dr. Thomas Wuttke at ...

Cancer drug found to offer promising results in treating sepsis in test mice

October 19, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A combined team of researchers from China and the U.S. has found that a drug commonly used to treat lung cancer in humans offers a degree of protection against sepsis in test mice. In their paper published ...

Study reveals key molecular link in major cell growth pathway

October 19, 2017
A team of scientists led by Whitehead Institute has uncovered a surprising molecular link that connects how cells regulate growth with how they sense and make available the nutrients required for growth. Their work, which ...

Tracing cell death pathway points to drug targets for brain damage, kidney injury, asthma

October 19, 2017
University of Pittsburgh scientists are unlocking the complexities of a recently discovered cell death process that plays a key role in health and disease, and new findings link their discovery to asthma, kidney injury and ...

Inflammation trains the skin to heal faster

October 18, 2017
Scars may fade, but the skin remembers. New research from The Rockefeller University reveals that wounds or other harmful, inflammation-provoking experiences impart long-lasting memories to stem cells residing in the skin, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.