Getty Images Western University researchers say ibuprofen combined with a specific chemical can, in at least some cases, be more effective when treating pain.

It’s the U-Haul of pain relief, say the experts, and it was discovered right here in London.

Western University’s blizzard of scientific discoveries continues with a breakthrough in pain relief for broken bones.

Researchers in the chemistry department have discovered a way to ensure the drugs needed to treat the pain are taken directly to the bones.

The group is led by Dr. Tsun-Kong Sham and doctoral student Vince Guo. They discovered that a chemical, calcium silicate hydrate (CSH), could be used to deliver the painkiller ibuprofen to the right place.

So, in simple terms, if a new drug were created combining calcium silicate hydrate and ibuprofen it would cut pain better.

“CSH is similar to a delivery truck, while the ibuprofen is like the cargo,” said Dr. Sham.

The discovery was made in collaboration with Dr. Ying-Jie Zhu of the Shanhai Institute of Ceramics.

Because CSH is a porous substance, Sham explained, it can be used to “load” another drug.

Guo, who is 26, was valuable to the project and did much of the work, said Sham.

“I think it’s very helpful for our future study,” said Guo. “It will benefit human beings in medical treatments.”

The immediate benefits include treating pain from broken bones and surgery, but the discovery could inform other research into drug delivery systems, with possible applications in cancer research.

The Western team also plans to explore other substances that could lead to new drug-carrier combinations.

Look into the light

— The London researchers used the Canadian Light Source synchotron, at the University of Saskatchewan, in their work.
— The gigantic machine accelerates electrons in a tube at nearly the speed of light, meaning a variety of substances can be closely analyzed.
— The synchotron was used to study the interactions between calcium silicate hydrate and ibuprofen on an atom-by-atom basis.

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