"This project is a nice illustration of how research trying to understand very basic biological principles can have practical applications," says Dr. Bean. This type of treatment has great potential to improve pain treatment during childbirth, dental procedures, and surgery, the researchers say. "Surgical pain is the obvious first application for this type of treatment," Dr. Woolf says. However, similar therapies might eventually be useful for treating chronic pain, he adds. Chronic pain continues for weeks, months, or even years and can cause severe problems, and is often resistant to standard medical treatments.
While the researchers focused on finding a treatment for pain, this strategy might also be useful for treating itch from eczema, poison ivy rashes, and other conditions, Dr. Woolf says. Like pain sensations, itch signals come from nociceptors. One problem with the combination treatment is that the capsaicin can cause unpleasant burning sensations until the QX-314 takes effect, Dr. Woolf says. Administering the QX-314 ten minutes before the capsaicin minimized this problem in rats. The investigators are now looking for ways to open the TRPV1 channels without the burning sensations, perhaps by finding an alternative to capsaicin. They also hope to find ways of prolonging the pain relief. Eventually, they might be able to develop pills that will stop pain signals without requiring injections, Dr. Woolf adds.
|Contact: Natalie Frazin|
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke