New Treatment for Neuropathy: Medicine's Next Big Thing?

Thirty percent of all Americans will be affected by peripheral neuropathy, a condition that impacts nerves leading to the arms and legs. In many cases, doctors prescribe medicines to help manage the pain, burning and tingling.

Now, researchers are testing a new non-addictive treatment inspired from a surprising source.

Joseph Malkevitch has been a math enthusiast for most of his adult life. Ironically, for years Joseph has been battling a medical condition that is highly unpredictable.

Malkevitch explained, "I noticed it in the form of tingling in my feet and toes and initially it went away and so I just tossed it aside as a glitch."

Joseph's doctors diagnosed him with peripheral neuropathy; damage to the nerves in the peripheral system which lead from the brain to the extremities. But they could not determine a cause. Medical experts say that's not uncommon.

David M Simpson, MD, FAAN, Professor of Neurology; Director, Clinical Neurophysiology Laboratories; Director, Neuromuscular Division; Director, Neuro-AIDS Program, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai said, "In upwards of 30 percent of patients with peripheral neuropathy one can't identify a cause."

Now, researchers are testing a drug to treat neuropathy pain. Right now it's known only as CC8464. Inspired by the toxin found in Japanese pufferfish, the drug copies how the fish toxins disrupt signals to the body.

"How it works in the body is by targeting those peripheral nerve fibers and not penetrating the brain," said Heikki Mansikka, MD, PhD, VP Clinical Development at Chromocell. (Read Full Interview)

Researchers say since the drug candidate bypasses the brain and works directly on the peripheral nerves, it may not be addictive. While Joseph chooses to manage his neuropathy without medication, he knows others with this condition may be searching for serious pain relief.

The potential new drug is being developed by the New Jersey-based company, Chromocell. The FDA granted the drug "fast-track" status based on need. It is currently in phase one clinical trials.
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