By: 15 May 2015
Next generation techniques provide clues for anaesthesia breakthrough

Next generation techniques provide clues for anaesthesia breakthrough

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have declared a breakthrough within the field of anaesthesia with the development of the first new technique since the 1970s for identifying potential compounds that may lead to the next generation of anaesthetic drugs.
“The anaesthetics identified by this approach require further development before they can be considered for use [in the operating theatre],” said lead author Roderic Eckenhoff of the Perelman School of Medicine at Penn. “However, the study results show that novel anaesthetics do exist.”
Eckenhoff and colleagues began their search for new drugs with the observation that in recent years most new drugs have come about as modifications of existing chemical structures. To discover truly novel drugs, they hypothesised, an entirely new approach was needed. With this challenge in mind, the researchers began their search by using a high-throughput screening process to identify potential compounds. By testing over 350,000 compounds and analysing their interactive capabilities with a surrogate anaesthetic binding protein target, apoferritin, they found a subset of 2600 with the right interactive and structural criteria to be tested for anaesthetic activity, first on tadpoles and then on mice. After performing these tests, the researchers “identified four compounds with high potency and low toxicity in tadpoles” yet only “two were found to be effective novel anaesthetics in mice.”
“No new anaesthetics have been developed for more than 40 years,” stated Eckenhoff. “We are only beginning to understand the actual mechanisms that allow general anaesthetics to achieve an anaesthetised state, and this study is a breakthrough into that world.”

McKinstry-Wu, A.R., Weiming, B., Ganesha, R., et al. (2015) Discovery of a novel general anesthetic chemotype using high-throughput screening. Anesthesiology, 122(2):325–333
Source: Medical Daily