Duke Researchers Discover A New Class Of Pain Reliever
Researchers at Duke University have discovered a potential new class of pain relievers that could someday treat patients with a variety of conditions more effectively. What’s more: the discovery came as a surprise.
The team was initially working with a special drug molecule to block something called an ion channel. Ion channels are kind of like on/off switches for transmitting pain signals.
The drug worked well at blocking the pain signals in that channel, called TRPV4. In fact, it was about ten times more effective than a previous iteration.
But when the researchers took a closer look, they were surprised to find that the same drug also blocked a second channel, TRPA1, making it what’s called a “dual inhibitor,” and even more effective in certain types of pain relief.
Dr. Wolfgang Liedtke was the lead researcher in this discovery, and as a physician who specializes in treating pain, he’s thrilled.
“This is the beginning of what seems to be a very interesting story and book, and we just published the first chapter,” he says.
A battery of additional testing and research – along with FDA approval – would need to take place before any version of this drug could be prescribed.
But the proof-of-concept experiments published in the June 1 edition of Scientific Reports suggests the team’s discovery could lead to more effective medications for treating headaches, abdominal pain, and more.