November 13, 2008

New Progress on Treatment to Keep You Safe Following Surgery

Patients going under the knife should be allowed to breathe easy thanks to new innovations. Respiratory depression (RD) can arise during normal physician-supervised procedures such as surgical or post-operative analgesia, and as a result of normal post-operative patient management.

If RD occurs while under the supervision of an experienced anesthesiologist, the outcome can usually be managed and there can be minimal long-term effects to the patient. Unfortunately, there are many situations during both in-patient and outpatient procedures where strong analgesic therapy is required but there is no attending anesthesiologist.

Each year, two thousand people or more die or suffer serious complications--such as organ failure, brain damage, or heart attack--from factors related to the use of post-surgical analgesic therapy, anesthesia, or a combination of drugs which depress the central nervous system.

Recent high-profile cases of these incidents include the deaths of Kanye West's mother, Donda West, who stopped breathing after undergoing cosmetic surgery, and Olivia Goldsmith, bestselling author of The First Wives Club, who suffered from complications as she went under anesthesia.

"Currently, the only two ways to counter opiate-induced respiratory depression is either to intubate the patient, which is an invasive procedure, or to administer an opiate receptor antagonist, drugs that will also block the effectiveness of the opiate analgesic," says Dr. Mark Varney, CEO and President at Cortex Pharmaceuticals. "While this approach may prevent serious side effects or even death, in practice it can mean patients having to endure an extended period of severe pain."

Researchers at the University of Alberta and Cortex believe that a novel class of molecules known as AMPAKINE(R) compounds may provide protection from drug-induced respiratory depression while simultaneously allowing the sedative or analgesic to continue working as intended.

In animal studies the AMPAKINE(R) compound CX717 has been shown to prevent or reverse opiate- or sedative analgesic-induced respiratory depression without the loss of analgesia.

Cortex recently reported data from two Phase IIa clinical studies demonstrating that CX717 could prevent the reduction in basal breathing rate induced by the opioid analgesic, alfentanil, as compared to placebo. This research was performed by a leading expert in the field at the Institute for Clinical Pharmacology, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University of Frankfurt, Germany.

"Albeit early, the therapy is promising and hopes to keep patients breathing easier," says Varney. For more information, log on to