A host of articles published today herald the pain relieving benefits of a compound extracted from the venom of a predatory sea snail, the Conus Regius.
Researchers at the University of Utah isolated the compound, known as Rg1A and tested its pain relieving effect on rats. The compound utilises a pain pathway not targeted by traditional opioids, offering some hope to those whose pain has become therapy resistant. In tests, researchers found that Rg1A blocked a specific type of neuro receptor – nicotinic acetylcholine receptors – in the rats’ brains, reducing pain. Using modelling techniques, the researchers then showed that Rg1A worked to block similar pain receptors in humans.
Compared to most analgesic medication, the compound’s pain relieving properties are long lasting, still working after 72 hours. Researchers also believe that Rg1A produces fewer side effects than opioids.
Professor J Michael McIntosh of the University of Utah said: “What is particularly exciting about these results is the aspect of prevention. Once chronic pain has developed, it is difficult to treat. This compound offers a potential new pathway to prevent pain from developing in the first place and offer a new therapy to patients who have run out of options.”