Scientists of the Warsaw University’s (UW) Chemistry Department discovered a chemical compound 5,000 times more efficient than the strongest painkillers currently available on the market.
If the forthcoming clinical test stage turns out successful, the market will be flooded with a drug capable of smothering neuropathic and acute trauma pain that often accompanies cancer-related diseases.
Discovered by a team of scientists led by professor Aleksandra Misicka-Kęsik of the UW and professor Barbara Przewłocka of the Pharmacology Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN), the chemical compound originating from the peptidomimetic family has a bifunctional character.
The first part of the compound affects the opioid receptors, which abates pain reactions. Meanwhile, the second part of the compound influences the fourth melanocortin receptor responsible for emitting the pain-initiating signal. The fact that the compound encompasses both of the above-described features, administration of the painkiller causes the organism to discharge signals that stop and abate the existing pain while silencing the source of the pain.
“It is a huge advantage over the currently available painkillers because all of them trigger only one of the two effects, never both of them,” said team-member doctor Rafał Wieczorek.
Unlike morphine, this painkiller is not only stronger but may also be less addictive, due to the fact that possibly only a small dose is required to entirely eliminate pain for a long period of time, even if the source of the pain comes from damaged and irritated nerves.
Currently, advanced works on the commencement of the first clinical test phase are ongoing. The drug was submitted to assessment for being liable to unitary patent protection in Poland and selected countries in the world.
“The discovery has immense commercial potential,” said doctor Rober Dwiliński of the UW, adding that “the drug… would be a salvation for people struggling with severe pains.”
The research programme received PLN 12.6 mln (EUR 2.95 mln) from the National Research and Development Centre (NCBiR).