Puffer fish biotoxin provides promising relief in cancer pain

02/04/04

Recent results from a phase IIA clinical trial on the use of tetrodotoxin – a neurotoxin extracted from puffer fish – in patients with refractory cancer pain show extremely promising results.

The study, reported in the January/February issue of the Journal Supportive Oncology, details the findings from the open-label dose finding trial, showing that the majority of patients who received the novel analgesic experienced either a complete or partial response to the agent. Overall, 68% (17/25) patients responded, based on the primary study endpoint of a reduction in pain intensity of greater than 33%.

Tetrodotoxin is a non-addictive neurotoxin, originally used by Japanese researchers in the 1930s for the treatment of migraines, and menstrual cramps. The biotoxin was subsequently developed by Wex Technologies for the clinical treatment of heroin withdrawal. It works by blocking slow sodium channel nocicipetive pain fibres in a highly selective way.

"The identification of a medication that can help these patients who are not responding to current therapy is very promising," said Dr. Edward Sellars, President and Chief Operating Officer of Ventana Clinical Research Corporation, Toronto, Ontario, and Senior Medical Consultant to Vancouver based International Wex Technologies, the company developing tetrodotoxin. "These interim results indicate that a double-blind, controlled trial should be initiated," Dr. Sellers said. In fact, a Canadian phase III trial is being planned.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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