Blow Fish Poison Makes Powerful Painkiller

Study finds it dulls physical agony of cancer for up to two weeks

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MONDAY, May 17, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A drug made from blow fish poison is being tested to see if it can dull cancer pain.

Early results show the drug, Tectin, is well tolerated and can relieve cancer pain for up to two weeks in some patients, says a study presented recently at a joint meeting of the American Pain Society and the Canadian Pain Society in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The blow fish, also known as the puffer fish or Fugu, has long been a rather risky delicacy for dedicated sushi lovers. Only the most expert of sushi chefs prepare blow fish for customers, since consumption of the animal's natural toxin can cause paralysis and even death.

However, according to the Canadian team, blow fish toxin might someday become a source of safe, effective pain control. Almost three-quarters of cancer patients experienced good results from the toxin-based drug, said lead researcher Dr. Neil Hagan, of the University of Calgary.

Doctors now have embarked on follow-up trials of the drug. Interim results are expected in 2005.

The company that created Tectin, International Wex Technologies Inc., originally intended it for the treatment of drug withdrawal. But when researchers found it mainly helped by reducing pain, the company pursued testing for pain relief in cancer patients.

More information

The University of Wisconsin Medical School has more about cancer pain relief.

SOURCES: International Wex Technologies Inc., news release, May 11, 2004

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