British researchers are developing a new drug that could finally give relief to millions of chronic pain sufferers. Scientists at the University of Liverpool and Royal Liverpool University Hospital say they have made significant progress in identifying new compounds that could be used to treat chronic pain without unwanted side effects.
The research is meant to address the long-standing need for more effective therapies to treat chronic pain. Drugs currently used to treat pain are effective in only about 40 percent of sufferers and often come with adverse side effects such addiction. About 20 percent of adults in Europe and 100 million in the U.S.suffer from chronic pain.
“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,” said Martin Leuwer, professor at the University of Liverpool’s Department of Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology. “Our ultimate aim is to allow chronic pain patients to regain a dramatically improved quality of life.”
Leuwer and his research team are examining compounds that target the glycine receptor, one of the main receptors in the central nervous system that are crucial in the sensation of chronic pain. They’ve been awarded over $2.2 million dollars from the UK’s Medical Research Council to continue their research.
“We’re aiming to develop molecules that target the glycine receptor into a drug that can be administered as a tablet,” said Leuwer. “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.
“This is an exciting project that expands our drug discovery into a new therapeutic area with a huge unmet medical need. Our team has 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”
The researchers hope to begin clinical trials of a new drug in three years – with hopes it could be available for use by 2017.