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Blocking ‘Hot’ Substance Could Eliminate Pain

April 27, 2010

The body creates a fatty acid similar to capsaicin – the ingredient that makes chili peppers taste hot – at the site of pain, and blocking its production could lead to a new generation of painkillers, according to researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

“Nearly everyone will experience persistent pain at some point in their lifetime,” Dr. Kenneth Hargreaves, the lead researcher and the chair of the Department of Endodontics in the Dental School at the UT Health Science Center, said in an Monday press release.

“Our findings are truly exciting because they will offer physicians, dentists and patients more options in prescription pain medications,” he added. “In addition, they may help circumvent the problem of addiction and dependency to pain medications, and will have the potential to benefit millions of people who suffer from chronic pain every day.”

Dr. Hargreaves told Reuters’ Health and Science Editor Maggie Fox that he and his associates are now working on a pill that can block the production of this substance, effectively blocking pain at the source. He told Fox that said medication would likely be effective against any type of pain caused by inflammation, including arthritis and even cancer. Furthermore, it would not be addictive and would not have any of the side effects associated with aspirin, narcotics, or anti-inflammatory drugs.

“For the first time we have the opportunity to try to block pain at its source,” Dr. Hargreaves told Fox in a telephone interview on Monday.

“Our findings are truly exciting because they will offer physicians, dentists and patients more options in prescription pain medications,” he added. “In addition, they may help circumvent the problem of addiction and dependency to pain medications, and will have the potential to benefit millions of people who suffer from chronic pain every day.”

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