2-Amino-2-methylbutyric acid; 2-Ethylalanine; α-Ethylalanine
3D model (JSmol)
|Molar mass||117.148 g·mol−1|
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
Isovaline is a rare amino acid transported to earth by the Murchison meteorite, which landed in Australia in 1969. The discovery of isovaline in the biosphere demonstrates an extraterrestrial origin of amino acids and has been linked to the homochirality of life on earth  suggesting a role in the origin of life.
The structure of isovaline is similar to the amino acids GABA and glycine, the chief inhibitory neurotransmitters in the mammalian central nervous system. Isovaline acts as an analgesic in mice  by activating peripheral GABAB receptors. In a mouse model of osteoarthritis isovaline restored mobility, suggesting inhibition of nociception by isovaline in the synovial membrane of the mouse knee.
Isovaline does not cross the blood-brain barrier and does not enter into the brain or spinal cord. Drugs such as opioids cross the blood-brain barrier to produce analgesia but often produce confusion, sedation and addiction.
This novel first-in-class compound has potential for treatment of acute and chronic pain, without the negative side effects associated with other commonly used analgesics.