Researchers find candidate gene culprits for chronic pain

May 6, 2010, Mayo Clinic

Chronic pain severely limits patients' quality of life and is among the cost drivers in U.S. health care. Patients can suffer pain without an apparent cause and often fail to respond to available treatments. Mayo Clinic researchers and collaborators now report that chronic pain may be caused by the inadvertent reprogramming of more than 2,000 genes in the peripheral nervous system. The research findings appear in the current issue of the journal Genome Research.

The research might ultimately lead to "transcription therapy" the researchers speculate, which would employ drugs that kill pain by correcting the activity of specific genes.

The researchers focused on suspected to be involved in pain: dorsal root ganglion neurons of the in rodent models. They performed high-throughput sequencing of hundreds of millions of mRNA molecules, the messengers of .

Powerful computer science was required to sort through the many pieces of information (50 base-pair long mRNA sequence "reads") assembling the complicated genomic puzzle. The resulting picture revealed a number of surprises, among them 10,464 novel exons (sections of the genome involved in creating proteins) and some 400 gene candidates described for the first time in the study. Furthermore, detailed building plans for thousands of spliced mRNA were mapped.

"Using this new approach offers greater sensitivity, dynamic range and more efficient unbiased compared to the previous microarray-based methods and may be an efficient new approach to a wide array of problems in neuroscience research," says Andreas Beutler, M.D., Mayo Clinic oncologist and corresponding author on the study.

affects 50 million Americans and costs $100 billion in health costs, lost work time and other economic impacts, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Add broken DNA repair to the list of inherited colorectal cancer risk factors

February 23, 2018
An analysis of nearly 3,800 colorectal cancer patients—the largest germline risk study for this cancer to date—reveals opportunities for improved risk screening and, possibly, treatment.

Team identifies genetic defect that may cause rare movement disorder

February 22, 2018
A Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)-led research team has found that a defect in transcription of the TAF1 gene may be the cause of X-linked dystonia parkinsonism (XDP), a rare and severe neurodegenerative disease. The ...

Defects on regulators of disease-causing proteins can cause neurological disease

February 22, 2018
When the protein Ataxin1 accumulates in neurons it causes a neurological condition called spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1), a disease characterized by progressive problems with balance. Ataxin1 accumulates because of ...

15 new genes identified that shape human faces

February 20, 2018
Researchers from KU Leuven (Belgium) and the universities of Pittsburgh, Stanford, and Penn State have identified 15 genes that determine facial features. The findings were published in Nature Genetics.

New algorithm can pinpoint mutations favored by natural selection in large sections of the human genome

February 20, 2018
A team of scientists has developed an algorithm that can accurately pinpoint, in large regions of the human genome, mutations favored by natural selection. The finding provides deeper insight into how evolution works, and ...

New software helps detect adaptive genetic mutations

February 20, 2018
Researchers from Brown University have developed a new method for sifting through genomic data in search of genetic variants that have helped populations adapt to their environments. The technique, dubbed SWIF(r), could be ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.