A breakthrough has opened the door for the development of a new category of painkillers which may be effective in treating pain related to a number of conditions including cancer, AIDS, migraines and diabetes.
The painkillers, called TRPV1 antagonists, can be activated by pepper like chemicals and high temperatures.
These drugs block the TRPV1 channel, which is the same receptor responsible for the sensation of hotness from hot peppers.
However, clinical trials have revealed that TRPV1 antagonists cause hyperthermia, which is a dangerous, fever-like rise in body temperature.
The same channel is responsible for pain caused by these diverse stimuli. For a number of years, scientists have focussed on the development of TRPV1 antagonists, but have been stymied by the dangerous hyperthermia side-effect.
The ground breaking project to eliminate the side-effect was led by Andrej A. Romanovsky at Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Centre in Arizona and included researchers from Arizona State University.
“We think we have found a recipe for making TRPV1 antagonists that do not have this fever-like side effect,” says Romanovsky.
These findings were published in the Journal of Neuroscience.