Scientists look to the Green Arrow for inspiration for new pain killers

ConnorHawkeGAV2102

Green Arrow

Scientists searching for better painkillers are taking inspiration from an unusual population: people who feel no pain at all.

Research has shown that rare mutations in a gene called SCN9A can give people complete immunity to pain. Now, pharmaceutical companies are aiming to develop drugs to mimic that genetic mutation.

Scientists have struggled to find better treatments for chronic pain, which affects about 1 in 5 people. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen sometimes don’t work very well, while more powerful opiates such as morphine, codeine or oxycodone can be dangerously addictive. People suffering from neuropathic pain tied to nerve damage, meanwhile, often get little relief from current painkillers.

Now Pfizer Inc. PFE +0.51% and a handful of smaller companies such as Canada’s Xenon Pharmaceuticals Inc. and the U.K.’s Convergence Pharmaceuticals Ltd. are working on new methods tied to the SCN9A gene. Instead of muting pain by reducing inflammation, as ibuprofen and similar drugs do, or by switching on the body’s own analgesic properties, as opiates do, the new experimental drugs seek to block the ability of nerve cells to send pain signals.

Read the rest of the WSJ article on their website.

(note: I was referring to Connor Hawke, not the original Green Arrow. I guess I could have gone with Bane, but using a villain just didn’t seem right)

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