Atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, arthritis, diabetes, sciatica, and back injuries are the conditions that cause pain or itching.
Persistent or chronic pain is a huge global health challenge, which affects over 20 percent of the population. It is the single biggest reason that people in the UK visit their doctor and it is recognized as a priority disease by the World Health Organisation.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended that current pain medications should not be prescribed to newly diagnosed patients, apart from cancer sufferers. So, there is an urgent need to develop a new, long-lasting medication that is both effective and safe to use.
Votucalis does not enter the brain, which means it is not addictive and less likely to cause side effects . It can be manufactured in large amounts using recombinant methods.
“Amazingly, a protein found in the saliva of this tiny creature could prevent chronic pain and itching in people”, said Study co-author Dr. Paul Chazot, in the Department of Biosciences, Durham University, UK.
Votucalis has already been tested in humans with other conditions, including conjunctivitis, without major side effects, so the potential for this to be developed into a drug to tackle chronic pain and itching is there.
Researchers say the next step towards clinical testing is to develop a delivery system to effectively administer the drug at the site of itch and pain.