“The active ingredient has been identified, we have managed to purify it, and, currently, there are three formulas that have this painkilling activity for persistent pain”, neurophysiologist, biologist and Sea4us researcher Pedro Lima explained in comments to Lusa News Agency.
Launched six years ago, the research has shown effective laboratory results in fighting chronic pain, and is currently at an advanced stage.
“We are looking for a way to artificially synthesise the formula to produce it in quantity, so that the medicine can reach all people”, the researcher stressed.
The process is being worked on in collaboration with chemists from Lisbon’s Nova
According to Mr. Lima, synthesising production “is the preferred way forward” as it represents “great advantages in terms of ecological sustainability, avoiding the extraction of great quantities of marine organisms even if they have no commercial value.”
According to the World Health Organisation, chronic pain affects 30 percent of the world’s population, for which there is no effective treatment without entailing significant secondary effects in patients.
Pedro Lima stressed the national project is “pioneering because it is the first time that attempts have been made to find a solution to chronic pain from the sea”, even though lots of research has been made into the affliction.
“It is a highly effective pharmaceutical with minimal secondary effects, with no addictions or dependency being foreseen, acting specifically on a protein located in the neuronal ganglia which is on the outside of the spine, unlike the opioids and other drugs used in the treatment of pain”, he elaborated.
The marine invertebrate organism that contains the active ingredient for the production of the analgesic has been identified in the sea off Sagres, one of the two areas the biotechnology company explores for its activities of diving and the sorting and preservation of
In Sagres the organisms are collected, catalogued and preserved before being sent on to the laboratory of the Nova University’s Faculty of Medical Sciences for neuroactivity tests.
Overall it takes around 12 years for the process, from finding the active component to commercialising the drug on the
“We don’t want to go the whole way but we want to arrive at a point where its value is sufficient to mitigate risks and sell it so it can be produced by the pharmaceutical industry”, Mr. Lima stressed.
He added the research has only been possible thanks to the cooperation from various entities, including Lisbon’s Nova University and Vila do Bispo council.
Vila do Bispo Mayor Adelino Soares said the project “will continue to have our backing as it is in everyone’s interest, not just those who suffer chronic pain, but also for the potential of our land to be known”
Sea4us is also involved in identifying and selecting other marine species with the potential to create other medicines, in partnership with European laboratories.