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UM researcher identifies novel treatment for pain in sickle cell disease
Date:7/22/2010

netic blood disorder that affects the red blood cells in the body making them become sickle-, or crescent-shaped. The crescent shape of the cells makes it difficult for them to pass through the small blood vessels in the body, forming blocks that lessen the flow of blood. The decreased blood flow often causes a variety of other serious health complications, including stroke and damage to vital organs including the lungs, spleen, kidneys, and liver.

The disease causes a constant level of chronic pain in patients, including cold and hot temperature sensitivity, and additional episodes of sharp, severe pain known as crises. Pain in SCD is described to be more intense than labor pain. The pain starts early in a patient's life, often during infancy, and increases in severity with age. There is no known cure, and the best treatment option for most patients with SCD is pain management. To date, the only approved classification of drugs for pain management and treatment of SCD is opioids (narcotics), the category of drugs that includes morphine. Opioids have long been used to manage the pain of patients with a variety of diseases, and the ill effects of the drugs are well known.

Particularly of concern for SCD patients is that opioids often negatively affect a patient's blood vessels and kidneys, two plaguing elements of the disease itself. In addition, patients with this disease need to take very high doses of opioids to sense any pain relief. Gupta and her team discovered that this is because the receptors required for the binding and action of morphine to provide pain relief are decreased in animals with SCD.


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Contact: Laura Stroup
lstroup@umn.edu
612-624-9912
University of Minnesota
Source:Eurekalert

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