Navigation Links
Pain, pain, go away

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston researchers have been awarded a five-year, $1.8 million grant by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to apply the techniques of gene therapy to the problem of neuropathic pain that is, pain that arises from a malfunction in the nervous system.

Neuropathic pain is a daily reality for millions of Americans, manifesting itself in a variety of life-impairing ways. Someone suffering from neuropathic pain might feel intense discomfort in response to a light touch, for example, or suddenly feel as though he or she were freezing in response to a small decrease in temperature. Caused by either accidental or disease-induced nerve damage, this kind of pain has proven very difficult to treat.

"Patients in neuropathic pain are willing to do almost anything to get relief," said Dr. Volker Neugebauer, the co-principal investigator on the grant. "They're in torment, often in really desperate situations."

To make matters worse, long-term neuropathic pain often causes depression, acting through emotional mechanisms in the brain meant to underscore the importance of pain signals. Depression further increases the perception of pain, creating a vicious cycle of increasing pain and depression. And while conventional pain medicines can block the pain signal, they are usually successful for only a limited time only; eventually the pain returns when the nervous system compensates for the blockade.

Neugebauer and his UTMB colleague and co-principal investigator Thomas Green believe that a better anti-neuropathic pain strategy is to target higher brain regions and prevent the abnormal generation of persistent emotions. They focus on the amygdala, a structure best known for its role in emotional responses, including anxiety and depression and in Neugebauer's previous work for its connection to pain regulation. Neugebauer and Green hypothesize that stopping abnormal activity in the amygdala by a particular type of receptor for the neurotransmitter serotonin will enable the successful treatment of neuropathic pain.

Although increased serotonin activity in the brain is generally thought of as a good thing it's the mechanism used by many antidepressant drugs activation of the serotonin 2C receptor in the amygdala can cause problems, according to Neugebauer. "In neuropathic pain we see that this receptor is activated on cells that regulate output from the amygdala to brain areas where responses to potentially harmful situations are generated," Neugebauer said. "This activity should be turned off when such response is no longer needed or useful, but these serotonin 2C receptors continue to drive amygdala output, creating a chronic pain state."

In experiments with laboratory rats in which neuropathic pain behavior has been induced by nerve damage, Neugebauer and Green plan to investigate the possibility of "re-normalizing" the amygdala by injecting it with specially designed viruses containing genetic material that blocks cells' generation of serotonin 2C receptors.

"The viruses that we're using are adeno-associated viruses, very common vectors that about 80 percent of the people in our society have been exposed to," Green said. "We've modified them so that they can't replicate, and inserted a gene that instructs the amygdala cells to make small pieces of RNA that interfere with the production of serotonin 2C receptors."

According to Green, who has been working with similar gene-therapy techniques for more than 10 years, the viral injections produce permanent effects in the brain and no off-target effects. The researchers plan to test the rats' response to the treatment with a variety of behavioral experiments that will examine both its effect on chronic pain behavior and behaviors associated with depression.

In addition to the behavioral investigation, the project will include electrophysiological studies of amygdala activity, in an effort to further define the "circuitry" of this key pain and emotion center. It will also examine the inconsistent results achieved when chronic pain is treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants, attempting to determine whether serotonin 2C receptor activity might be responsible.

"SSRIs increase serotonin, and most of the serotonin receptors produce good effects," Neugebauer said. "But increasing serotonin also means you're hitting the 2C receptor as well, perhaps mediating undesirable effects. We want to take that out and then see if increasing serotonin produces consistently good effects."


Contact: Jim Kelly
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

Related medicine news :

1. Study suggests touch therapy helps reduce pain, nausea in cancer patients
2. Docs Make Push to Lower Kids Pain, Stress in ER
3. Caddy Products, LLC, Makers of FaceCaddy Therapeutic Ice and Heat Wrap, Launches EyesCaddy and BackCaddy to Address Sinus Pain, Migraines and Back Pain.
4. Women’s Excellence in Endometriosis Presents a New State-of-the-Art Center for Pelvic Pain, Painful Intercourse, and Painful Periods in Lake Orion, MI
5. New Book The MELT Method Offers a Breakthrough Self-Treatment System to Eliminate Chronic Pain, Erase the Signs of Aging, and Feel Fantastic in Just 10 Minutes a Day!
6. Zion Health Announces Release of New Line of Home Remedies: Kanwa Whole Body Detox teas for Stomach Pain, Ulcers, and Skin Allergies Now available at Bee Health E in Doug
7. Kent Chiropractor, Dr Paul Byers, Discusses His Soon To Be Released Book, Chiropractic Cures for Neck and Back Pain, Educating Patients 253-852-1250
8. Battle for Grace: A Memoir of Pain, Redemption and Impossible Love
9. Affordable Acupuncture Practice Helps South Florida Residents Relieve Pain, Sleep Better, Reduce Stress and More
10. Copper Magnetic Bracelet Relieves Pain, Announced Pain Free Living
11. Molecular Diagnostics Market - US, UK, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany & France Analysis in New Research Report at
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... ... ‘17, and Jennifer Huggins, PharmD ’17, along with clinical associate professor Janice ... of cardiovascular diseases during the 15th Annual Women’s Health Conference. The SIU ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) of ... collection of specialty vendors and unique items from across the nation, this holiday-themed event ... wellness services offered by the VNA. The boutique will be open Saturday, November ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Talented host, actor Rob ... sciatica in a new episode of "Success Files," which is an award-winning educational ... and investigates each subject in-depth with passion and integrity. , Sciatica occurs when ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... First Healthcare ... program management, will showcase a range of technology and learning solutions at the ... Convention and Expo to be held October 14–18, 2017 at the Mandalay Bay ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... , ... October 12, 2017 , ... IsoComforter, Inc. ( ... announced today the introduction of an innovative new design of the shoulder pad. ... you get maximum comfort while controlling your pain while using cold therapy. By utilizing ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/2/2017)... Oct. 2, 2017 Diplomat Pharmacy, Inc. (NYSE: ... Software and Consulting, LLC , and named its founder ... based in Tennessee , will operate ... expands EnvoyHealth,s service offerings for health care partners to ... "In an interoperable world, technology ...
(Date:9/28/2017)... 28, 2017 Hill-Rom Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: HRC), ... call and webcast on Friday, November 3, 2017, beginning ... ending at approximately 8:30 a.m. (CDT) / 9:30 a.m. ... 2017 financial performance and guidance for 2018, Hill-Rom executives ... enhance operational performance, and long-range financial outlook through 2020. ...
(Date:9/25/2017)... 25, 2017  EpiVax, Inc., a leader in ... immune-engineering today announced the launch of EpiVax Oncology ... personalized therapeutic cancer vaccines. EpiVax has provided $500,000 ... to enabling technologies to the new precision immunotherapy ... EpiVax Oncology as Chief Executive Officer. Gad brings ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: