Topeka (WIBW) - An entirely new approach to easing pain is being tested in Topeka.
Researchers think they've found a substance in the body that is more prevalent in people with chronic pain. It's called nerve growth factor.
Cotton-O'Neil Dr. Eric Voth says clinical trials are underway on new medications that can target the NGF. He says studies show people with pain from a variety of sources, including arthritis, trauma or herniated discs, have elevated levels of the NGF in the area of pain. A substance called monoclonal antibodies appears to be able to suppress the production of NGF.
Cotton-O'Neil is participating in clinical trials on some of those medications. Generally, they must be given intraveniously or through an injection under the skin. Tissue samples are studied to know where the NGF is active and the drug needs to be delivered.
Initial studies show patients receiving the monoclonal antibodies are getting sustained pain relief. Voth says it's showing very few side effects, the most serious being a slight tingling sensation in some patients. Voth says it's his hope patients will be able to reduce does of more addictive narcotics.
The focus now is on getting the dose just right. Voth says certain does seem to work better than others, and it's unclear exactly how often treatments should be repeated.
Voth says, unfortunately, the new medications don't cure the pain, so the treatment would have to be repeated. However, he calls the research groundbreaking and a development that could help a lot of people.
The clinical trial is looking for back pain patients in particular. For information or to see if you qualify, contact Cotton-O'Neil Clinical Research at 785-368-0744.