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Researchers Designing New Drug for Chronic Pain

Back pain (FDA)

(U.S. Food and Drug Administration)

An interdisciplinary team from University of Liverpool and the Royal Liverpool University Hospital in the U.K. started research to design a new drug for the treatment of chronic pain. The £1.4 million ($US 2.22 million) grant for the project was awarded by the Medical Research Council, a supporter of medical research in the U.K., backed by public funds.

The research will address the need for chronic pain therapies, a condition that affects one in five adults in Europe and the U.S., according to the university. Current medications, the university says, helps only about 40 percent of sufferers, and among those for whom medication is effective, current therapies often have undesirable sedative side effects.

The research team is examining compounds affecting the glycine receptor, an inhibitory neuronal receptor in the central nervous system, considered important to the sensation of chronic pain. The university says the project so far — using medicinal chemistry, computational methods, and experimental testing — has identified candidate compounds for the treatment of chronic pain without unwanted sedative effects.

Martin Leuwer from Liverpool’s Institute of Translational Medicine and one of the project leaders says, “Our collaborative team of medicinal chemists, molecular modelers, 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.” Leuwer says the team is aiming to develop a drug that can be taken in tablet form, but adds, “further improvements are required if we are to reach the goal of generating a drug which is safe, effective, and orally viable.”

In addition to Leuwer, the other lead researchers on the project are Kevin Park and Laiche Djouhri from Liverpool’s Department of Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology, and Paul O’Neil and Neil Berry from the Department of Chemistry.

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