Explorer Grant (2016 funding round)

Dr Bronwyn Kivell
Victoria University of Wellington
Preclinical development of non-addictive pain medications
24 months

Lay summary

Chronic pain affects 1 in 6 New Zealanders, robbing them of their quality of life. Chronic pain is poorly treated with current mu-opioid medications such as morphine, which become ineffective with long-term use and have high abuse potential. Our goal is to develop new, improved analgesics (painkillers) that do not cause addiction and do not become less effective over time. We propose to take an innovative approach utilising the structurally novel chemical ‘Salvinorin A’. Our preliminary preclinical data has revealed the analgesic potential of these novel compounds in addition to their reduced side-effects. With considerable therapeutic benefits over traditional morphine-like compounds, Salvinorin A analgesics promise to transform the treatment of chronic pain, while the potential social and economic benefits of developing such a therapy are enormous. This high-impact project is likely to provide safer, more effective therapies that significantly improve the quality of life of those suffering from pain.

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