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New Long-Acting Local Anesthetic Derived From Algae Effectively Blocks Pain In Surgical Patients

Posted Feb 25 2011 5:58pm

A U.S.-Chile collaboration is bringing surgical patients closer to having a long-acting local anesthetic. In a randomized, double-blind trial, patients given neosaxitoxin, a new local anesthetic derived from algae, had significantly less postoperative pain and recovered about two days sooner than those given the commonly used local anesthetic bupivacaine. Based on this finding, Children’s Hospital Boston, a co-investigator on the study, has signed a collaboration agreement with biotech start-up company Proteus SA (Santiago, Chile) to move the new anesthetic toward clinical adoption.

Tens of millions of patients have operations requiring local anesthesia each year. Current local anesthetics act for less than 8 hours; when they wear off, patients generally need opioid analgesics, which cause substantial side effects, including nausea, sedation, shallow breathing, sleepiness, constipation and itching. These side effects often delay recovery and can result in prolonged hospitalization.

Neosaxitoxin (neoSTX) provides local anesthesia for more than 24 hours. It is a site 1 sodium-channel blocker, part of a larger class of emerging anesthetics based on molecules derived from aquatic organisms.

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