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U-M Researchers Receive $1.8 Million Grant to Develop New Therapy for Neuropathic Pain
Date:11/9/2009

Neurologists will use funds to move lab findings into human therapy for difficult-to-treat condition that involves pain from nerve damage

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Nov. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Researchers from the University of Michigan Department of Neurology have received a $1.8 million grant to develop a novel therapy for neuropathic pain, a difficult-to-treat condition in which patients experience pain because of damage to nerve without obvious tissue injury.

In previously published studies, these investigators have found that gene transfer to sensory nerves using a modified herpes simplex virus-based vector effectively reduced pain-related behaviors in rodents with nerve damage caused by trauma or diabetes. A gene transfer vector is an agent used to carry genes into cells.

The newly awarded grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs will allow the investigators to produce and certify a human grade vector that will then be tested in patients with pain from nerve damage resulting from diabetes.

"This grant will allow us to take the critical step in translating laboratory findings into human therapy," says principal investigator David Fink, M.D., Robert Brear professor and chair of the Department of Neurology. Fink is also a staff neurologist at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

Fink and his collaborators have previously demonstrated that gene transfer vectors created from recombinant crippled herpes simplex viruses can be used to deliver genes to sensory nerves from application in the skin.

Fink is directing a phase 1 human trial on the first such vector carrying the gene for human preproenkephalin in patients with intractable pain from cancer. The second trial will test a vector carrying the gene for glutamic acid decarboxylase that has proven to be particularly effective in animal models of neuropathic pain.

"We are very excited to receive this grant," says co-investi
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SOURCE University of Michigan Health System
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