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Health Beat: New treatment for neuropathy

Health Beat: New treatment for...

NEW YORK - Joseph Malkevitch has been a math enthusiast for most of his adult life. Ironically, for years, Malkevitch has been battling a medical condition that is highly unpredictable.

"I noticed it in the form of tingling in my feet and toes and initially it went away, and so I just tossed it aside as a glitch," Malkevitch explained.

Malkevitch's doctors diagnosed him with peripheral neuropathy; damage to the nerves in the peripheral system that lead from the brain to the extremities, but they could not determine a cause. Medical experts said that's not uncommon.

"In upwards of 30 percent of patients with peripheral neuropathy, one can't identify a cause," said Dr. David M. Simpson, a professor of neurology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Now, researchers are testing a drug to treat neuropathy pain. Right now, it's known only as CC8464. Inspired by the toxin found in Japanese pufferfish, the drug copies how the fish toxins disrupt signals to the body.

"How it works in the body is by targeting those peripheral nerve fibers and not penetrating the brain," said Dr. Heikki Mansikka, vice president of clinical development at Chromocell.

Researchers say since the drug candidate bypasses the brain and works directly on the peripheral nerves, it may not be addictive.

While Malkevitch chooses to manage his neuropathy without medication, he knows others with this condition may be searching for serious pain relief.

The potential new drug is being developed by the New Jersey-based company Chromocell. The FDA granted the drug "fast-track" status based on need. It is currently in phase-one clinical trials.


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