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New Long-Term Painkiller
April 20, 2009 pain

A new anesthetic (painkiller) that can reduce pain for up to a week has been discovered. Scientists made the new drug by combining saxitoxin with liposomes. Saxitoxin blocks sodium ion channels on nerve cells and can prevent the transmission of action potentials. Liposomes are small fat particles that can be used to deliver drugs slowly over time.

pain The researchers injected the saxitoxin/liposome mixture over the sciatic nerve of rats. The sciatic nerve is responsible for sensation of the foot. The rats were then examined to see how they responded to heat applied to their feet. When the saxitoxin/liposome mixture was used alone, the rats lost sensation in their feet for two days. If dexamethasone, a steroid, was added to the mixture, the rats lost sensation for 7.5 days. There was little tissue damage caused by the new combination.

Tests in people still need to be done. However, if this new drug works, it could help millions of people with chronic pain conditions and reduce pain that some people experience after surgery.

Did you know? Saxitoxin is a neurotoxin that is naturally produced by some marine dinoflagellates.

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