New insight into pain mechanisms

April 25, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Researchers in the UCL Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research have made a discovery which could help the development of analgesic drugs able to treat nerve damage-related pain.

The research is published today in the journal Nature Communications and funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Current work well for some types of pain, but are not very effective for easing the chronic pain associated with . This type of pain is called neuropathic pain and it is associated with diseases like or trauma.

New findings from Professor John Wood (UCL Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research) could help change this. They have identified the specific in mice that are important for transmitting particular types of pain and that the transmission of neuropathic pain is dependent on a specific pain-signalling channel called Nav1.7.

Professor Wood and his team studied mice in which Nav1.7 is lost and were able to demonstrate that mice without the Nav 1.7 channel did not suffer from neuropathic pain. This suggests it could be a for drugs to treat neuropathic pain.

The research also improves our understanding of the role of the Nav1.7 channel in the release of transmitters that cause pain sensations and suggested that new pain killers may work best if they can be directed both to the ends of the nerves in the skin and to the .

While it was already known that the loss of this Nav 1.7 channel in humans stops the experience of acute and , such as that caused by a cut or a burn, or a long term condition like arthritis, this is the first research to show a connection with neuropathic pain. It provides important clues for the development of effective new Nav1.7-targeted pain killers.

Professor John Wood, said: “Chronic pain is debilitating, but not all pain is bad pain. For example, if we touch a scalding saucepan, acute pain makes us withdraw our hand. What we are trying to do is to find targets for drugs which mean chronic pain can be alleviated, while enabling our body to still respond to other types of acute pain that protect us. ”

This research highlights the crucial role of fundamental bioscience in providing new knowledge to pave the way for the production of new pharmaceuticals.

Explore further: Chronic pain gene identified

Related Stories

Chronic pain gene identified

September 8, 2011
British researchers say they have identified the gene that controls chronic pain, opening the door to new drug therapies that block the chemical processes that cause chronic back pain, headaches or arthritis.

Recommended for you

A sodium surprise: Engineers find unexpected result during cardiac research

July 20, 2017
Irregular heartbeat—or arrhythmia—can have sudden and often fatal consequences. A biomedical engineering team at Washington University in St. Louis examining molecular behavior in cardiac tissue recently made a surprising ...

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

Engineered liver tissue expands after transplant

July 19, 2017
Many diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatitis, can lead to liver failure. More than 17,000 Americans suffering from these diseases are now waiting for liver transplants, but significantly fewer livers are available.

Lunatic Fringe gene plays key role in the renewable brain

July 19, 2017
The discovery that the brain can generate new cells - about 700 new neurons each day - has triggered investigations to uncover how this process is regulated. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Jan and Dan Duncan ...

New animal models for hepatitis C could pave the way for a vaccine

July 19, 2017
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of hepatitis C—a disease that affects nearly 71 million people worldwide, causing cirrhosis and liver cancer if left untreated—it might be worth ...

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.