The legal marijuana industry is growing substantially and is currently grabbing the attention of relevant investors. Cara therapeutics, a drug developing company, is focusing a big deal of its efforts towards the management of acute and chronic pain and pruritus (itching) by using chemicals engineered to mimic medical cannabis.
What Are the Current Treatments Available?
CR845 is a promising chemical compound with a pain-alleviating effect. It exerts analgesic actions near the brain and spinal cord. Cara Therapeutics, the company developing the drug, is currently running trials to test the efficacy of CR845 for the treatment of moderate-to-severe pain and pruritus in patients undergoing hemodialysis. Hemodialysis is a treatment necessary for those with chronic kidney disease who have no functioning kidney. More than half of these patients, frequently suffer from a severe itching and pain for years without adequate relief. The conventional medications, such as corticosteroids and antihistamines, have not proved completely effective. In addition, there is an increased risk of acquiring infection for these patients. Therefore, it is important to search for novel drugs that act against these symptoms.
CR845 can be given intravenously and orally. It has been recently developed for its effects on chronic pain and general pruritus. As it avoids entry into the central nervous system this drug is expected to have minimal harmful effects.
What Does CR845 Do?
The human body contains distinct receptors called Kappa Opioid Receptor Agonists (KORA) which are distributed to peripheral tissues (outside the brain and spinal cord). Kappa opioid receptors are able to target pain and have lower side effects than other opioids. Symptoms of other opioids, such as nausea, vomiting, respiration problems, hallucinations, etc. can be avoided when taking CR845, as it exerts no action on other type of receptors (such as Mu receptors) that have been classically stimulated by opioid medications. However, there is a currently a lack of available data regarding both short-term and long-term side effects.
How Does CR845 Compare to Previous Treatments?
Currently, there are no available data comparing CR845 to other analgesics. The ongoing trials concerned with studying the effects of CR845 in patients with chronic kidney disease still need to prove the clinical efficacy of the drug. It is good news, however, that Cara Therapeutics is looking to replace morphine and other opioids for pain management to decrease the occurrence of harsh side effects. Following two phases of the clinical trial of intravenous CR845 use in hemodialysis patients, the food and drug administration (FDA) has granted Breakthrough Therapy for pain and severe itch management as the medication reduced these symptoms with a marked improvement in quality of life. The long-term safety of CR845 is currently being investigated in the phase 3 trial. If CR845 does not perform well in the third phase, this would reduce the chances of its widespread approval.