Science

Experimental chronic pain treatment looks to first human trials

Experimental chronic pain trea...
A newly published study offers evidence of safety and efficacy of a new treatment for chronic pain in animal models
A newly published study offers evidence of safety and efficacy of a new treatment for chronic pain in animal models
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A newly published study offers evidence of safety and efficacy of a new treatment for chronic pain in animal models
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A newly published study offers evidence of safety and efficacy of a new treatment for chronic pain in animal models
The image shows the compound Tat-P4-(C5)2 after an injection into the spinal cord. The compound (purple) penetrates the nerve cells of the spinal cord (yellow), but not the surrounding cells (the cell nuclei are blue).
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The image shows the compound Tat-P4-(C5)2 after an injection into the spinal cord. The compound (purple) penetrates the nerve cells of the spinal cord (yellow), but not the surrounding cells (the cell nuclei are blue).

A new study published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine describes the successful results of animal studies testing a novel experimental peptide designed to inhibit the receptors responsible for chronic neuropathic pain. The University of Copenhagen-led research is now moving towards the first human trials for this new kind of chronic pain treatment.

"We have developed a new way to treat chronic pain,” says co-author on the new study, Kenneth Lindegaard Madsen. “It is a targeted treatment. That is, it does not affect the general neuronal signaling, but only affects the nerve changes that are caused by the disease.”

Some estimates suggest nearly 10 percent of the world’s population suffers from some kind of chronic neuropathic pain. Caused by either disease or damage to the somatosensory nervous system, this kind of pain is notoriously difficult to treat, with current medications, including opioids or anticonvulsants such as gabapentin, causing adverse side effects.

The novel innovation demonstrated in the new study is a peptide called Tat-P4-(C5)2. Previous experimental treatments for neuropathic pain worked by generally dampening nerve pathways, however, side effects were often significant due to the lack of specific targeting in the treatment. The novel peptide developed by the research team suggests it is possible to only inhibit the action of specific, damaged, oversensitized receptors responsible for a patient’s neuropathic pain.

"We have been working on this for more than 10 years,” says Kenneth Lindegaard Madsen. “We have taken the process all the way from understanding the biology, inventing and designing the compound to describing how it works in animals, affects their behavior and removes the pain.”

The image shows the compound Tat-P4-(C5)2 after an injection into the spinal cord. The compound (purple) penetrates the nerve cells of the spinal cord (yellow), but not the surrounding cells (the cell nuclei are blue).
The image shows the compound Tat-P4-(C5)2 after an injection into the spinal cord. The compound (purple) penetrates the nerve cells of the spinal cord (yellow), but not the surrounding cells (the cell nuclei are blue).

The newly published study describes the results of the peptide in animal models designed to simulate neuropathic pain. The experimental treatment proved successful in lowering pain responses while not impacting broader nervous system sensations.

"The compound works very efficiently, and we do not see any side effects,” explains Kenneth Lindegaard Madsen. “We can administer this peptide and obtain complete pain relief in the mouse model we have used, without the lethargic effect that characterizes existing pain-relieving drugs.”

Interestingly, the same experimental compound has been previously shown as effective in reducing cocaine-seeking behavior in rats. This suggests the compound may also hold potential for the treatment of addiction.

Human clinical trials are now being established to first test the safety, and then the efficacy of this novel compound. The researchers are currently in the process of patenting the compound, and working to commercialize the treatment ahead of the long human clinical trial process.

"Now, our next step is to work towards testing the treatment on people,” notes Kenneth Lindegaard Madsen. “The goal, for us, is to develop a drug, therefore the plan is to establish a biotech company as soon as possible so we can focus on this."

The new research was published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine.

Source: University of Copenhagen

8 comments
Robert L Young
Howdy... Were do I sign up for the trial...
czechster
Cannaboid oils have shown equal success. I would bet this medication will be extremely expensive. Just can't compete with greed.
guzmanchinky
Taking pain away would be so amazing for so many people. I had lower back pain 10 years ago before I had a spinal fusion, and I tell you, I would not have wanted to live if there had not been a solution, it clouded everything I did.
John K
Were do I sign up for the trial. I've had two spinal surgeries in the past 18 months. One was a 15 hours T9 to L1 fusion. The nephropathy pain has been unbearable and I'm on pain meds daily. I am currently using a spinal cord simulator with no success. I'm looking for any kind of relief.
John K
I can barley walk due to the burning, numbing, tingling and many other sensations that I currently are subject to on an hourly basis. Any other information would be greatly appreciated.
merv mckenzie
sign me up,i have been in chronic pain now for more than 30 years,i have not gotten out of bed in last 15-20 years without having some sort of dis comfort that gets worse when i am up and about.all day long if i am moving about yard ,shopping,going for walk i have to sit down for only a minute or so so pain can dissipate and i can get up and go for another 10 mins when i have to sit again,so needless to say i sit plenty during any day,has been like this for many years,at least i can get up on my feet and do something many people are stuck in wheel chair or worse so really how much can i complain...
Ricky Armstrong
Sign me up I have had two spinal fusions. Have shoulder pain neck and have drop foot on left side from nerve damage. My left foot is numb all the time. Right foot is slightly numb. Have injections every three months. And take pain medication every day. Sick of being in pain.
Al Winston
Am all in favor of research that pushes boundaries on novel mechanisms rather than a "me too" reformulation of old stuff. However, taking data from squid/mice/rats and applying it to humans is a rather large leap, in particular as it relates to the central nervous system. See, the distribution of neural material, say the cerebral cortex, is so vastly different in mice and men as to make the transition of information from one to the other as to be a leap of faith. Further, when pursuing novel mechanisms, we have no idea if this peptide is critical in say, preventing plaque formation in people with elevated cholesterol. Because mice don't have that problem, and the initial human trials will only be in the healthiest of the healthy. Just sayin', this article is a tad premature. Have been doing research, teaching, clinical care of chronic pain for close to 30 years. Have seen this story many, many, many times over.