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Coral offers effective new pain relief

A chemical extracted from soft coral off the coast of Taiwan could provide a therapy for sufferers of chronic nerve pain
Kenya Tree Coral or Capnella imbricata
Traditional painkillers like aspirin and even morphine often do little to take the edge off neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain, which follows damage to the nerves, can be debilitating and is hard to control even with heavy-duty painkillers like morphine.

But research in the British Journal of Pharmacology suggests the newly tested chemical which comes from Capnella imbricata, also known as Kenya Tree Coral,, could provide relief.

Called Capnellene, the compound is isolated from soft coral collected at Green Island, a small island near Taiwan.

The Taiwanese scientists report promising early trial results in rats.

Medicins from the reef
Several important drugs have already been developed from chemicals found in coral reef organisms. This include the antiviral AZT, a treatment for people with HIV, which is based on chemicals extracted from a Caribbean reef sponge. Reefs have also yielded treatments for cardiovascular diseases, ulcers, leukaemia and skin cancer.