A research team from National Sun Yat-sen University said yesterday that it had identified a compound in coral near Green Island that could help treat chronic neuropathic pain.
Wen Zhi-hong (溫志宏), a professor at the Department of Marine Biotechnology and Resources, told reporters that the compound, capnellene, extracted from Capnella imbricata soft coral growing in the waters off Green Island, could ease pain.
Chronic neuropathic pain usually follows damage to the neural system from physical wounds, infections or unknown causes.
Patients suffering from the chronic pain are usually treated with painkillers, but even strong painkillers like morphine cannot cure the problem. The pain is often unbearable, the team said.
The compound was first extracted from the coral by Duh Chang-yih (杜昌益), a professor at the same department, in 2006.
The research team has been testing the compound on rats for more than a year, Wen said.
“The compound is not morphine or a kind of steroid. Therefore, it is impossible for patients to become addicted to it like they could with painkillers,” Wen said.
Wen said the research team would apply for a patent and hoped to transfer the discovery to pharmaceutical companies or biotechnology companies to develop drugs that might heal chronic neuropathic pain.
The study was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology on Tuesday.