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Could a humble, yet deceptively dangerous snail provide the answer to the opioid crisis?

November 8, 2017 | BioTechniques

The first hints of the potential for cone snail venom emerged a few decades ago when Baldomero Olivera completed his postdoctoral studies at Stanford University and returned home to the Phillipines in 1968. Upon arrival, he was shocked to find a sparsely equipped lab and a lack of the tools and reagents to which he had grown accustomed. After wracking his brains to find a research project he could do in his new lab, he finally settled on determining how cone snails—which were prevalent in the Phillipines—killed. “I thought this would be a short-term project, and that after a while, I could return to DNA replication,” he said in a seminar. Over the next 25 years, Olivera and numerous collaborators studied ω-conotoxin MVIIA inside and out, hoping to take advantage of its localization to pain circuits. They tested every possible modification and alteration, and studied its structure, function, and the locations of the receptors it bound in mice and humans. Finally, in December 2004, the FDA approved ω-conotoxin MVIIA—synthetically produced, but in the exact form made by the snail—as a pain-relieving drug. “If you’re going to sell something as a drug, ω-conotoxin is not exactly the best name,” Olivera said. “Today, this drug is called Prialt, which is primary alternative to morphine.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: Expanesthetics is among many companies developing non-opioid analgesics. Sometimes news about discoveries can be a bit sensationalized and oversimplified. Here's a narrative that illuminates the ardor involved in developing a drug product to treat pain. Like the discovery in this story , Expanesthetics is also currently working on a drug that might eventually be able to treat chemotherapy induced neuropathy.

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Flexion Therapeutics Announces FDA Approval of Zilrettaâ„¢ (triamcinolone acetonide extended-release injectable suspension) for Osteoarthritis (OA) Knee Pain

October 6, 2017 | Flexion Therapeutics Investor Relations

Flexion Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq:FLXN) today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Zilrettaâ„¢ (triamcinolone acetonide extended-release injectable suspension), the first and only extended-release, intra-articular injection for osteoarthritis knee pain. Zilretta is a non-opioid medicine that employs Flexion's proprietary microsphere technology to provide proven pain relief over 12 weeks.

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How much is living a pain-free life worth? Economists say up to $145 per day.

August 10, 2017 | Vox

New research by economists in the United States and Iceland has put a price tag on what it’s worth to Americans to live without chronic pain. The researchers, using a massive government survey of Americans over age 50, estimated in a new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research that living with chronic pain makes people so unhappy that they’d need to earn between $20,000 and $50,000 per year more to be as happy as they would be otherwise with no pain.

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