Chief of Pain Medicine at the Children's Hospital of Boston, Charles Berde. (Photo: vectorblog.org/childrenshospital.org)
Anesthetic derived from algae likely to revolutionize medicine
Friday, March 04, 2011, 23:30 (GMT + 9)
A Chilean biotechnology company has developed a new long-acting local anesthetic derived from a type of freshwater algae, which was successfully tested by a team of Chilean and U.S. scientists.
According to research conducted at the Children's Hospital of Boston (USA), the anesthetic made by the company, known as Proteus neosaxitoxin (neoSTX) - is able to block pain for over 24 hours.
The study's results will be published in the next issue of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine.
Scientists involved in the initiative ensure that patients receiving this product had less postoperative pain and recovered two days earlier than those who received a conventional local anesthetic.
The neoSTX can provide local anesthesia for more than 24 hours as it works by blocking sodium channels, while conventional local anesthetics lose their effect after eight hours.
According to the Chief of Pain Medicine at the Children's Hospital, Charles Berde, "there has not been a local anesthetic as innovative as this since 40 to 50 years ago."
Participating in the study were 137 patients from Chile, who had there laparoscopic gall bladder removed.
In the group of patients who received neoSTX, fewer cases were reported of severe postoperative pain at the incision site after 12 hours - 4 per cent versus 18 per cent for those who used a conventional anesthesia - and 24 hours - 6 per cent versus 16 per cent -.
In addition, 88 per cent of patients who received this anesthetic claimed not to have any pain at rest after 12 hours, while the percentage decreased to 69 per cent in individuals who took a conventional anesthetic.
Patients who received neoSTX achieved complete functional recovery two days earlier, while none of the two groups were observed to have serious adverse reactions, reports the Europa Press.
"This new drug does not cause neurotoxicity or cardiotoxicity, therefore, we find something that is longer lasting, more effective, and additionally reduce the two main risks of anesthetics," said the president of the Society of Anesthesiology of Chile, Renato Chacón.
"If it indeed works as proven, it would constitute a revolution, from the point of view that it is likely that clinical practices at a national and global level will use this new drug," Chacon told BBC Mundo.
"When it becomes industrialized it will not be done through a Chilean laboratory but rather a large international company that will buy the patent, but it is relevant to the Chilean anesthesiologists that they are at the forefront, as the professionals have been able to innovate a product that could be used throughout the world," he added.
For its part, Berde stressed that "over the last 40 or 50 years after the development of bupivacaine, there has been only very slight improvements in local anesthetics used for pain relief after surgery."
Therefore, he argues that if further studies confirm that the neosaxitoxina is safe and effective, "the greatest progress will be more prolonged pain relief after surgery."
By Analia Murias