Dr. Bazbek Davletov, University of Sheffield - Botox And Chronic Pain

Dec 13, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Dr. Bazbek Davletov of the University of Sheffield explains why Botox could be the next great pain medication. 

Bazbek Davletov is the Chair in Biomedical Science at the University of Sheffield where he is working on developing treatments for chronic pain and cancer using protein stapling. Professor Davletov designed this new therapeutic approach while working at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

About Dr. Davletov

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Dr. Bazbek Davletov - Botox And Chronic Pain

In modern societies, one in eight adults suffers from severe, disabling chronic pain which lasts many months and years. Currently, available painkillers rarely help the chronic pain sufferers and often have intolerable side-effects. The chronic pain problem can only be solved if we find strong and selective neuronal blockers.

We are using botulinum neurotoxin to target and block pain neurons for several months.  Normally, botulinum neurotoxin causes muscle paralysis. A diluted form of botulinum neurotoxin is commonly known as BOTOX and is in wide use for cosmetic procedures. Recently, BOTOX was recommended for treatment of migraine but the paralytic toxic action of BOTOX masks its anti-pain potential.

My team developed new botulinum molecules without paralytic properties. This feature makes our molecules attractive for treatment of neuronal disorders such as epilepsy and chronic pain. In our recent study we stapled the tetanus binding part which targets spinal neurons to botulinum blocking part and thereby we created a non-paralysing neuronal blocker. Our tests show that this newly engineered protein can treat inflammatory pain.

Pain treatment requires long-lasting neuronal blocking without muscle paralysis. A single injection of our new molecule at the site of pain could potentially relieve pain for many months in humans and this now needs to be tested.

Production support for the Academic Minute comes from Newman’s Own, giving all profits to charity and pursuing the common good for over 30 years, and from Mount Holyoke College.