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Molecular miners find pain relief drugs from the sea

Melbourne based company Metabolic Pharmaceuticals Limited recently announced successful results in preclinical trials of the toxin. The company will begin clinical trials in humans this month to firstly test the safety of the toxin in normal males, and later its effectiveness in treating the neuropathic pain associated with diabetes.

From the University of Melbourne's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the recently launched Bio21 Institute, Associate Professor Bruce Livett says the toxin ?called ACV1 ?also has potential for treating a range of other painful conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, shingles and sciatica.

"ACV1 has been shown to be effective in treating pain in several experimental animal models of human pain syndromes, including post-surgical and neuropathic pain," Associate Professor Livett says.

"In addition, it has the unique property that it appears to accelerate the rate of recovery from a nerve injury."

"We are very excited that clinical trials to test the effectiveness of ACV1 in humans with diabetic neuropathies will soon be underway and we expect that the potential of ACV1 in treating a range of other painful conditions will also be realised in time."

ACV1 has shown potential for treating neuropathic pain, that is, pain generated inside the body (arising in the nervous system) as opposed to the other type of pain ?nociceptive pain ?which comes from the outside in, for example, a burn.

Associate Professor Livett says neuropathic pain is the most difficult form to treat and typically responds poorly to conventional painkillers such as morphine or aspirin. Other treatments have also been found to be largely ineffective.

The great potential of ACV1 is that eliminating neuropathic pain is where it works best.

BACKGROUND

Associate Professor Livett and his colleagues first discovered ACV1 in 2003 while studying the toxins produced in the venom of Conus victoriae
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Source:University of Melbourne


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