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Chocolate-Based Cough Remedy In Final Stages Of Testing

December 22, 2010

Researchers said that a chemical in cocoa could soon be turned into a medicine for persistent cough.

Scientists are in the final stages of clinical trials for a drug that contains theobromine, which is an ingredient found in chocolate and cocoa.

Developers in the U.K. say that the drug could be on the market within two years. 

Most current medicines used to control the symptoms are opiate-based ones like cough syrups containing codeine.

The Medicines and Health Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said in October that people under the age of 18 should not take codeine-based remedies because the risks outweigh the benefits.

Researchers say that the new theobromine treatment should not have this problem, and because it is flavorless it can be taken by those who dislike chocolate.

Theobromine is thought to work by inhibiting inappropriate firing of the vagus nerve, which is a key feature of persistent cough.

The final stage of the drug’s testing will begin in the next few months.

The drug is being developed by the private U.K. company called SEEK.

Manfred Scheske, CEO of Consumer Health at SEEK, told BBC: “I am very excited to announce the progression for the late-stage development of BC1036, which has the potential to dramatically impact the treatment of persistent cough and could greatly benefit the quality of life of persistent cough sufferers.”

Professor Alyn Morice of the Hull Cough Clinic told BBC that there was a need for new treatments.

“Thousands of people across the UK suffer from persistent cough, and due to the drawbacks of current opioid drugs such as codeine, we are in desperate need of a non-opioid treatment with a drastically improved side effect profile for patients.”

The cough can be a protective reflex in healthy individuals, but when the cough serves no useful role it is the most common respiratory complaint.  Persistent cough is defined as a cough that last for over 2 weeks.

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