Medications have long been used to treat pain caused by injury or chronic conditions. Unfortunately, most are short-term fixes or cause side effects that limit their use. Researchers have now discovered a new compound that offers longer lasting painkilling effects, and shows promise as an alternative to current anesthetics. The research was published in the journal ChemMedChem.
Painkillers work by interfering with the nervous system's transmission of nerve signals that the body perceives as pain. Lidocaine, the gold standard in local anesthetics for more than 50 years, is used as an injectable pain reliever in minor surgical or dental procedures, or as a topical ointment or spray to relieve itching, burning and pain from shingles, sunburns, jellyfish stings and insect bites. The new compound, boronicaine, could potentially serve many of those same functions as an injectable or topical painkiller.
The researchers synthesized boronicaine as a derivative of lidocaine. By changing aspects of the chemical structure of lidocaine, the researchers found that the new compound provided pain relief that lasted five times longer than lidocaine. In pre-clinical, early stage studies, boronicaine provided about 25 minutes of relief, compared to about five minutes of pain relief with lidocaine.
Although some conditions may warrant the use of a short-lasting painkiller, in many cases a longer lasting anesthetic is a better option. Having a longer lasting anesthetic reduces the dosage or number of doses needed, limiting the potential for adverse side effects. While other types of painkillers can provide longer pain relief than lidocaine, they can cause heart toxicity, gastrointestinal issues and other side effects. Preliminary findings show no toxicity in single-dose studies of boronicaine, though more studies are needed.
Based on material originally posted by University of Missouri-Columbia.