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April 11, 2016

Australian researchers work on new drugs to treat multiple sclerosis and pain

Researchers at the University of Queensland, Australia, found that a new plant-derived drug, T20K, can block the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS).

By Srivari Aishwarya

snailvenome

Researchers at the University of Queensland, Australia, found that a new plant-derived drug, T20K, can block the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS).

The drug has been extracted from a traditional medicinal plant, the Oldenlandia affinis. It is considered for oral administration, in contrast to some current MS treatments where patients need to have frequent injections.

Data from an animal model study support the potential of the drug to treat MS, which is a chronic incurable condition marked by attacks that bring gradual deterioration in the patient’s health.

Patent applications for the drug have been filed in several countries.

University of Queensland researcher Dr Christian Gruber said the breakthrough could be a step forward in preventing and treating MS and other autoimmune diseases.

In a separate development, researchers at the university are working on the development of a new drug using snail venom for pain relief.

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During laboratory tests, the scientists have identified a component of one of these toxins from cone snail venom (conotoxins) to easily translate the active ingredient into a viable drug.

"University of Queensland researcher Dr Christian Gruber said the breakthrough could be a step forward in preventing and treating MS and other autoimmune diseases."

Using a laboratory rat model, the modified conotoxin was used to treat pain generated in the colon, similar to that experienced by humans with irritable bowel syndrome.

Although the conotoxin has been modified, its pain relief properties remained as effective as the full-size model, according to the researchers.

The study is funded by Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Researchers are seeking additional funding to develop the technology further.


Image: The new drug is derived from Oldenlandia affinis, a traditional medicinal plant. Photo: courtesy of The University of Queensland.

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