Researchers at Tel Aviv University have a developed a new drug that could offer a new treatment option to patients suffering from neuropathic pain.
The drug, currently called BL-7050, works by inhibiting the transmission of pain signals within the body, according to Professor Bernard Attali and Dr. Asher Peretz of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine of Tel Aviv University..
In preclinical trials, the Israeli researchers measured the electrical activity of neurons and found that BL-7050, when taken in pill form, prevents neuron hyper-excitability, which not only protects against epileptic seizures, but neuropathic pain as well. In essence, the medication was able to produce “calmness” in the neurons, inhibiting the pathways of pain.
Specifically, BL-7050 works by singling out proteins that act as a channel for potassium — the same channels that signal pain caused by neuropathic pain. Because potassium plays a critical factor in the excitability of neuron cells — particularly those in the heart and nervous system — when potassium channels aren’t functioning correctly, cells are more likely to become hyper-excited. This can lead to cardiovascular and neurological disorders, like arrhythmias and epilepsy, according to Professor Attali.
Caused by tissue or nerve damage, neuropathic pain is the guilty party in many instances of chronic pain. While neuropathic pain may result from an accident, it is also a byproduct of many medical diseases and conditions, including diabetes, lupus, and tumors. Because neuropathic pain is commonly resistant to traditional types of pain management treatments, like ibuprofen and prescription morphine, many people with neuropathic pain resort to living a life of disability and chronic pain.
Attali believes that BL-7050 could bring neuropathic pain relief to hundreds of millions of patients worldwide who suffer from the condition.
BL-7050 will soon go to its initial clinical trial. The medication is licensed for development and commercialization by the BioLineRx, an Israeli biopharmaceutical development company.
The study was reported recently in the journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.)