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Algae-derived anesthetic promising

Article-Algae-derived anesthetic promising

Boston — Children’s Hospital Boston has signed a collaboration agreement with a Chilean company to get a long-acting new local anesthetic derived from algae approved in the United States, Medical News Today reports.

The anesthetic, neosaxitoxin (neoSTX), is a site 1 sodium-channel blocker, part of a larger class of emerging anesthetics based on molecules derived from aquatic organisms. Proteus SA of Santiago, Chile — the firm with which Children’s Hospital is collaborating — extracts, cultures and purifies large amounts of neoSTX from freshwater microalgae, then formulates the compound for clinical use.

A randomized, double-blind trial of neoSTX — a three-part effort involving researchers from Padre Hurtado Hospital in Santiago, Children’s Hospital Boston and Proteus — examined 137 Chilean patients undergoing laparoscopic gall bladder removal.

Results showed that 4 percent of the patients randomized to neoSTX reported severe pain at the incision site at 12 hours postsurgery, as compared with 18 percent who were given the commonly used anesthetic bupivacaine. At 24 hours postop, the figures were 6 percent among the neoSTX group and 16 percent in the bupivacaine group.

Significantly more neoSTX-treated patients reported complete absence of pain at 12 hours, both at rest (88 percent vs. 69 percent) and with movement (80 percent vs. 60 percent). Patients in the neoSTX group reported a full functional recovery approximately two days earlier.

No patients in either group reported serious adverse reactions.

According to Medical News Today, investigators think even more prolonged local anesthesia is possible, based on studies showing that combining site 1 sodium-channel blockers with existing local anesthetics can produce nerve blockade for up to four days with minimal side effects.

More studies, tentatively planned for later this year at Children’s Hospital Boston, will seek to determine optimal doses that block pain while avoiding toxicity.

The study was reported in the March-April issue of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine.

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