A team of researchers from the University of Bristol are developing a new painkiller for the severe chronic pain associated with diabetes, it has been announced. The study, backed by an award from the Wellcome Trust under its Seeding Drug Discovery initiative, is investigating a new analgesic drug based on the protein galanin.
The research team hope to develop the drug to alleviate the neuropathic pain suffered by diabetics, for which there are no real effective treatments. With diabetes being the most common cause of neuropathic pain, this particular problem affects around half of all diabetics, and around 15–20 per cent of those will go on to develop the associated chronic pain.
The scientists have been examining the properties of galanin for a decade, and have found that it decreases neuropathic pain in a number of animal models of disease, including diabetes.
Team leader, David Wynick, said “A drug that mimics the effects of galanin could offer relief to the millions of people with diabetes worldwide that currently suffer from this debilitating pain. At present we know of no other pharmaceutical company that is exploring galanin to develop a pain treatment and we are delighted that the Wellcome Trust is supporting our work in this area.”
It is hoped that the study will develop a suitable drug using in human trials in around three years, with at least another eight years before a drug could be commercially available if the initial tests proved successful.

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