Designing a new drug for chronic pain

August 24, 2012
Designing a new drug for chronic pain

(Medical Xpress)—Scientists at the University of Liverpool and the Royal Liverpool University Hospital have been awarded £1.4 million to design a new drug for the treatment of chronic pain.

The project funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), addresses the long-standing and urgent need for effective therapies for chronic pain which affects around 20% of adults in Europe and the US, and more than eight million adult patients in the UK alone. Medication currently available to treat the condition is effective in only around 40% of sufferers and even these patients often struggle to maintain the balance between adequate pain relief and the adverse effects of current therapies.

Targeting the glycine receptor

The research team is examining compounds which target the glycine receptor, one of the principal inhibitory neuronal receptors in the central nervous system and crucial in the sensation of chronic pain. Through medicinal chemistry, computational methods and experimental testing, scientists successfully identified novel compounds which could be used for the treatment of chronic pain without unwanted sedative effects.

Professor Martin Leuwer, from the University's Department of Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology in the Institute of Translational Medicine, said: "This is an exciting project that expands our drug discovery portfolio into a new therapeutic area with a huge unmet medical need.  Our collaborative team of medicinal chemists, molecular modellers and neurobiologists have made significant advances in this area and this funding provides us with the opportunity to drive the project forward towards an entirely new class of drug for the treatment of chronic pain conditions. 

"We're aiming to develop molecules that target the glycine receptor, into a drug that can be administered as a tablet. Our project concept has been shown to work but further improvements are required if we are to reach the goal of generating a drug which is safe, effective and orally viable. Our ultimate aim is to allow chronic pain patients to regain a dramatically improved quality of life."

He added: "In view of the huge numbers of patients worldwide whose lives are wrecked by chronic pain, the fact that current treatment options are clearly insufficient and the dramatic toll on economies caused by millions of lost working hours, our causal treatment option has the potential to have a tremendous beneficial impact on individuals and societies."

Explore further: Naturally occurring protein has a role in chronic pain

Related Stories

Naturally occurring protein has a role in chronic pain

June 12, 2012
Researchers in France and Sweden have discovered how one of the body's own proteins is involved in generating chronic pain in rats. The results, which also suggest therapeutic interventions to alleviate long-lasting pain, ...

Chronic pain gene identified

September 8, 2011
British researchers say they have identified the gene that controls chronic pain, opening the door to new drug therapies that block the chemical processes that cause chronic back pain, headaches or arthritis.

Study suggests new way to treat chronic pain

March 26, 2012
Nearly one in five people suffers from the insidious and often devastating problem of chronic pain.

Recommended for you

Hibernating ground squirrels provide clues to new stroke treatments

November 17, 2017
In the fight against brain damage caused by stroke, researchers have turned to an unlikely source of inspiration: hibernating ground squirrels.

Molecular guardian defends cells, organs against excess cholesterol

November 16, 2017
A team of researchers at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health has illuminated a critical player in cholesterol metabolism that acts as a molecular guardian in cells to help maintain cholesterol levels within a safe, ...

Prototype ear plug sensor could improve monitoring of vital signs

November 16, 2017
Scientists have developed a sensor that fits in the ear, with the aim of monitoring the heart, brain and lungs functions for health and fitness.

Ancient enzyme could boost power of liquid biopsies to detect and profile cancers

November 16, 2017
Scientists are developing a set of medical tests called liquid biopsies that can rapidly detect the presence of cancers, infectious diseases and other conditions from only a small blood sample. Researchers at The University ...

FDA to crack down on risky stem cell offerings

November 16, 2017
U.S. health authorities announced plans Thursday to crack down on doctors pushing stem cell procedures that pose the gravest risks to patients amid an effort to police a burgeoning medical field that previously has received ...

Engineering the gut microbiome with 'good' bacteria may help treat Crohn's disease

November 15, 2017
Penn Medicine researchers have singled out a bacterial enzyme behind an imbalance in the gut microbiome linked to Crohn's disease. The new study, published online this week in Science Translational Medicine, suggests that ...

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.