Researchers at the University of Missouri have developed boronicaine, a new compound that, they suggest, offers longer-lasting painkilling effects than, and could be a promising alternative to, such anesthetics as lidocaine to numb pain in targeted areas, according to a release from the University of Missouri (MU) School of Medicine. Their study, “Carborane-Derived Local Anesthetics Show Isomer-Depended Analgesia,” was presented March 29 at the Experimental Biology conference in Boston, and was recently published in the medicinal chemistry journal ChemMedChem, the release notes.

George Kracke, PhD, associate professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine at MU School of Medicine, and lead author of the study, notes in the release that lidocaine has been the gold standard in local anesthetics because of its versatility and effectiveness at quickly numbing pain in targeted areas. However, he says, “While lidocaine is effective as a short-term painkiller, its effects wear off quickly. We developed a new compound that can quickly provide longer-lasting relief. This type of painkiller could be beneficial in treating sports injuries or in joint replacement procedures.”

The release notes that Lidocaine is used as an injectable pain reliever in minor surgical or dental procedures, or as a topical ointment or spray. In physical therapy, lidocaine is the topical pain-relieving drug used in iontophoresis. Boronicaine, the release continues, could potentially serve many of the same functions as lidocaine.

Study author M. Frederick Hawthorne, PhD, director of MU’s International Institute of Nano and Molecular Medicine, a Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Radiology at MU, and a National Academy of Sciences member, synthesized boronicaine as a derivative of lidocaine, the release explains. By changing aspects of the chemical structure of lidocaine, the researchers found that the new compound provided pain relief that lasted five times longer than lidocaine. In preclinical, early-stage studies, boronicaine provided about 25 minutes of relief, compared to about 5 minutes of pain relief with lidocaine, the release continues.

“Although some conditions may warrant the use of a short-lasting painkiller, in many cases a longer lasting anesthetic is a better option,” Kracke says in the release. “Having a longer-lasting anesthetic reduces the dosage or number of doses needed, limiting the potential for adverse side effects.” Kracke notes that more research is being conducted regarding the compound’s potential side effects.

[Source: University of Missouri School of Medicine]