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Australian scientists find world-first alternative to opioid-based pain relief

Scientists at the University of Texas at Austin have shown for the first time that the compound that was used to relieve pain from cancer, also works for severe pain caused by spinal cord injuries.

The new paper says the compound they have developed is a combination of painkillers and an antitumor agent found naturally in grapes — a compound called picrotoxin.

The new drug can also be developed by using the chemicals released by grape seeds when they are harvested, rather than from plants themselves.

“This is a really novel approach for developing novel analgesic medications to treat severe neurological injury,” lead researcher and a UTS professor of chemical engineering, Chris Anderson, told NBC News.

“Our findings indicate that we’re on the right track here,” Anderson said.

Scientists first made a breakthrough in 2010 when they discovered that some of the picrotoxin found in the skins of grapes, as well as the stem, can be converted in the body to a naturally.

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