A team of scientists has found a novel road-block in the body’s pain pathways, which could be used to provide new ways to treat chronic pain.
Researchers from Germany and China noted pain serves a key nervous system function, signaling events that can harm us. But when nerves get persistent pain signals -- such as after injury or inflammation – that signaling becomes amplified.
By studying this process in mice, the researchers determined specialized pain “sensors” in nerve cells are responsible for that process and can be genetically altered – and essentially turned off – by manipulating certain enzymes.
"Chronic pain is a major cause of poor quality of life worldwide; recent demographic studies indicate that one in every six people … suffers from chronic pain,” researchers wrote. "Our observation that genetically silencing …. pain-sensing nerves markedly reduced chronic inflammatory [and] pain paves the way for potential new therapeutic approaches.''
Their results were published in the journal Public Library of Science: Biology.