“It would be useful for conditions like chronic pain where, rather than use narcotics, which are systemic and pose a risk of addiction, you could just put that piece of the body to sleep, so to speak." - Daniel Kohane, MD, PhD
Researchers at Children's Hospital Boston have developed a slow-release anesthetic drug-delivery system that could potentially revolutionize treatment of pain during and after surgery, and may also have a large impact on chronic pain management.
In NIH-funded work, they used specially designed fat-based particles called liposomes to package saxitoxin, a potent anesthetic, and produced long-lasting local anesthesia in rats without apparent toxicity to nerve or muscle cells. The research was published April 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [“Prolonged duration local anesthesia with minimal toxicity”]
"The idea was to have a single injection that could produce a nerve block lasting days, weeks, maybe even months," explains Daniel Kohane, MD, PhD, of the Division of Critical Care Medicine in the Department of Anesthesiology at Children's, and the report's senior author. "It would be useful for conditions like chronic pain where, rather than use narcotics, which are systemic and pose a risk of addiction, you could just put that piece of the body to sleep, so to speak."
"If these long-acting, low-toxicity formulations of local anesthetics are shown to be effective in humans, they could have a major impact on the treatment of acute and chronic pain," says Alison Cole, PhD, of the NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which partially funded the work.
"This slow-release technology may also have broader applications in drug delivery for the treatment of a variety of diseases."
Kohane is currently optimizing the formulation to make it last even longer, while avoiding local and systemic toxicity.
“It is conceivable we could have a formulation that is suitable for clinical trials before too long,” he says…
Source: Children’s Hospital, Boston, news release Apr 13, 2009