French scientists near Paris have discovered a new molecule for treating pain. This could be life-changing for patients suffering from various rare genetic diseases resulting in severe chronic daily pain, for example.
This type of chronic pain can result from a damaged nervous system. Several million people in Europe suffer this type of pain and only half of them find relief in any type of treatment. However, this could be about to change. A team of French researchers hope they have a new treatment based on the body’s natural defences.
When the body feels pain it releases a natural painkiller called enkephalin, but it only works for about 20 seconds because the enzymes in our bodies neutralise it. This new treatment controls the enzymes, so that the enkephalin molecules can deal with the pain.
Professor Bernard Roques, the Scientific Director of “Pharmalabs, explained: “We thought it would be good to protect the enkephalins so as to increase their concentration and their lifespan and therefore achieve almost the same painkilling power as morphine.”
The advantage is that morphine affects the entire body and can have serious side effects, which is apparently not the case with this new treatment. There are another 3 or 4 years of testing to complete, but if all goes well, there could soon be an alternative to morphine.