New Chronic Pain Medication May Relieve Pain Without Addiction

Columbia University Medical Center researchers have given many chronic pain patients hope with a patent on a potential new pain drug that focuses on the “on/off” switch to pain that the researchers found 4-years ago in their studies.  The new drug, which they have named “N60”, has proven to be powerful against pain in animal trials while avoiding tolerance, addiction and sedation problems.  The researchers are just now planning on beginning the human trials, so unfortunately, everything is just in the beginning phases at this point.  Approval and when it will be available is still unknown and will probably not likely be soon.

This is how the researchers describe pain in the ProHealth article:

Pain is a perception in the brain triggered by signals sent along nerves in the peripheral nervous system. It is a sensation that serves as a defense mechanism for the organism, but how it works is only beginning to be understood. Scientists now know, though, that there are several pathways by which the brain perceives different types of pain.

The chronic pain team, led by Dr. Richard Ambron, Professor of Pathology & Cell Biology, began to develop N60 after his colleague, Dr. Ying-Ju Sung, Assistant Professor of Clinical Pathology, discovered the pathway that neurons use to inform the brain of an injury.

Left uncontrolled, this pathway persistently alters the electrical properties of the neuron, ultimately causing chronic pain.

The researchers at Columbia University Medical Center found out that there is a protein in the pathway called “PKG”  that acts like an “on/off” switch.  As long as the switch is on, the pathway is activated and the brain continues to receive signals that are perceived as pain, even after an injury has healed.

Sung and Ambron quickly realized that PKG would be an excellent target for drug development.

• Since PKG is specific for the biochemical signaling involved with chronic pain, shutting off PKG will not prevent a patient from feeling fresh injuries.

• It also operates in the peripheral nervous system, rather than the central nervous system (brain & spinal cord). This means that a drug that blocks PKG does not have to cross the blood-brain barrier, a formidable challenge in drug development.

“The only drugs that work consistently on chronic pain are opiates and anti-depressants,” said Ambron. “A significant problem with opiates is that extended use often leads to addiction.”

“Everyone is looking for a solution that is not addictive,” Sung added. “There’s increasing concern, from clinicians, patients, and regulatory agencies, with drugs that act on the central nervous system – where addiction can develop.”

“We believe a compound like N60 has significant potential to transform the way chronic pain is treated,” Ambron said.

“If it works the way we think it can, we may be able to alleviate chronic pain in some of its most intractable forms without the risk of addiction, a problem that conveys a whole set of economic and social issues for our country and society at-large.”

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  1. Jennifer Bone says:

    How are people being chosen for this study. I have had chronic pain for many years and I am fighting addiction. Can I get involved?

  2. I would love to be part of this trial as well, because on top of chronic pain, I am allergic to many drugs that are supposed to help, including Celebrex and many narcotics.

  3. I have suffered CP for many years and am opiate tolerant. am right now on 64mg Exalgo and 8mg instant relief tablets PRN. I would love to be a part of this study to give my opinion of the affects of this drugs and its overall relief of pain. I am yet to stop my pain with all meds period.

  4. Hi folks! I’m not sure I understand these posts. The article, like so many these days, seems never to mention the NAME of the new drug being tested. Is it the same thing as what others have called N-60? That doesn’t sound like any kind of commercial prescription name I’ve ever heard. Does one have to be in a particular study to try the drug? Is there only ONE such study up and running at present?

    Anyway, I have had serious M.E.-caused chronic pain for 21 years, and the only thing that helps for my pain — which I have all over my body, especially in my larger joints and bones — is Fentanyl patches and Methadone tabs. Unfortunately the otherwise excellent — except that they often come unglued! — Fentanyl patches, which are sold and prescribed as being “effective for three days,” don’t work nearly that long, at least in any member of the species homo sapien with whom I have spoken. That is truly infuriating, since all of the various makers of the drug in its various “generic” forms, and every physician I have ever spoken to, will all tell you flat out that NO ONE — at least no one who isn’t lying about needing them! — gets a full THREE DAYS of pain relief from a single patch!! [If you don’t believe me, just start asking around.}

    In my case, the Fentanyl patches work well for about a day — almost always the second day — or, at most, a day and a half, or, at least, only for PART of one day! The rest of the time, like many of you too, I suppose, I have to get by on 800 mg./day of Methadone — which is grossly inferior to Oxycodone or Oxycontin, but the FDA is again hassling the medical community about Oxycontin, and enough Tylenol that it’s a wonder my kidneys still function at all!

    Like many of the rest of you again, I would really like to know what great compassionate bureaucratic or state legislative body it was that insisted on, and STILL, after so many years, INSISTS upon, — although probably no one on the decision-making board has ever experienced C.P. themselves! — this ridiculous, and far worse, in many cases, downright TORTUROUS!, LIE that Fentanyl patches provide a full THREE days of pain relief. It is probably due to the fact that in the U.S., unlike, say, in most European countries like the U.K., it’s government bureaucrats and not qualified physicians who make such decisions, a stupidity which, as Mike Gray details in his superb _Drug Crazy_, came about primarily because the AMA, unlike its British equivalent, was so thoroughly pusillanimous in the U.S., around 1916 or so, that rather than tell the Feds to mind their own business, — as U.K. doctors did in some fine blunt words, — and to respect the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the AMA, still no bastion of defense for either physicians or patients to this day, simply caved in, and hence has been pulled around by its nose ever since.

    Anyway, you can probably see why I would be interested in getting something better to help me relieve the pain the OTHER 2/3rds of the time. Thanks to all who posted. And PLEASE, someone, anyone, let me know if you know whether this study is for N-60 or something else, and whether it is possible for me to be part of the trials without moving far away from my home and work for a year or so, as ampligen treatment seems to require.

  5. Fusroy, tell your doc you need to be able to change your patch every other day. My rheumy let me do that, and he writes for the BRAND NAME ONLY-no substitution permitted, and you can give an excuse such as you are allergic to the adhesive in the generic, and that when you tried brand, wow, no reaction. THe insurance has to pay, or at least they often will. 800mg of methadone-wow,and along with the fentanyl, I am suriprised your liver AND kidneys are working, and that you are even breathing. But all the same, this may be one way to get the fentanyl patches to work for you….

  6. I’ve had fibromyalgia for 32 years. I’m 53. I’ve been on the fentanyl patches for 10 years. I hate taking meds but the pain is intolerable without it. The worse thing about opioids is not just the so called addiction and side effects but the frightening reality that your body can not fight pain naturally after long term use. And tolerance builds to such a point that no amount of drugs can continue to control pain. I’m terrified for my future I’m keeping my pain level between 5 to 9 daily but worry what’s going to happen in ten or twenty or thirty more years! It would be a miracle if the drug co would create a non addictive non tolerance building effective pain control.

  7. Carolyn says:

    I have had chronic occipital pain in my head 24hrs/7 for 12 years now. NOTHING WORKS to help with the pain. I am very interested in N-60 after reading about it. I feel the switch needs to be turned off so the brain stops sending the pain. I have done everything holistic also with no relief. Has anyone heard more about N-60 and what is going on with it?

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