Preclinical pain drug shows first-in-class potential

The fast-growing drug discovery arm of the Italian Institute of Technology has published a preclinical study in which a novel pain therapy with front-line potential was able to deliver a shot of pain relief in tissue while detouring the central nervous system and the side effects which that can lead to.

The Drug Discovery and Development unit, dubbed D3, said that URB937 works in peripheral tissue by inhibiting the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). The drug controls pain and inflammation at the specific site it originates in by boosting levels of anandamide. And the researchers believe that they have solid proof of concept results to suggest that they have a new first-in-class therapy that could treat pain spurred by a host of ailments. The study was published in Nature Neuroscience.

"These findings are significant because they show for the first time how FAAH inhibitors may enable the body to harness its own analgesic and anti-inflammatory powers right where the pain relief is needed and avoid side effects often seen in other painkillers,": said Dr. Daniele Piomelli, Scientific Director of D3. "This has great potential to give patients more treatment options to relieve a wide spectrum of pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis and peripheral neuropathic pain."

"This paper represents an important advance in the development of clinically useful cannabinoids," said Andrew Rice, a professor at Imperial College London. The existing laboratory and clinical data unequivocally demonstrate that cannabinoids have pain relieving properties, but their therapeutic index needs to be improved."

 D3 is funded by the Italian government and plans to have 70 scientists on board by the end of this year.

- here's the D3 release