Nav: Home

Monash University researchers develop game changing strategy for pain relief

May 31, 2017

Researchers from Monash University have developed a new drug delivery strategy able to block pain within the nerve cells, in what could be a major development of an immediate and long lasting treatment for pain.

More than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain and this figure is expected to grow, driven by the increased life expectancy, increasing incidence of diabetes and cancer, combined with better survival rates, often leaving patients with severe and poorly treated pain. The global market for nerve pain treatments is over US$600 billion and yet current pain therapies are not completely effective and often suffer from unwanted side effects.

Research published today (31 May, 2017) in the journal, Science Translational Medicine, reveals how a target protein, long known to be associated with both chronic and acute pain, works within the nerve cell. This protein is the NK1 receptor, the receptor of the neuropeptide substance P, which mediates pain transmission. Because of its association with pain and other diseases of the nervous system, many drug development attempts have focused on inhibiting this receptor, but the efficacy of these treatments has been very limited. This new work shows that such ineffectiveness could be in part because the treatments targeted the protein on the surface of the nerve cell.

Dr Michelle Halls and Dr Meritxell Canals from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) and the ARC Centre for Excellence in Bio-Nano Science (CBNS) at Monash University, have worked with Professor Nigel Bunnett, previously at Monash and now at Columbia University in the US, and Professor Chris Porter from MIPS and CBNS.

Together they have found that the NK-1 receptor controls pain once it is inside the cell - so drugs that merely block it when it is on the surface of the cell have little efficacy. Instead, this new research shows that, in animal models, if the NK-1 receptor is blocked once it enters the nerve cell, it is possible to suppress pain more effectively.

Dr Halls said that the new strategy of "targeting receptors inside the cell represents a new frontier in drug delivery and a novel therapeutic strategy for dealing with pain."

Working with a multidisciplinary team of cell biologists, pharmacologists, physiologists and drug delivery experts, the researchers developed drugs that specifically target NK-1 receptors within the nerve cell. Animal studies showed that using the drugs - which have an engineered lipid attachment that targets the drug to the NK-1 receptor inside the cell, could block pain for extended periods in several animal models.

Dr Canals said: "This is a proof-of-concept study that shows that we can re-engineer current pain drugs and make them more effective. The challenge is now to translate the technology into human clinical trials. This is a complex and challenging path - but the ultimate benefits to patients with nerve pain are potentially highly significant."
-end-


Monash University

Related Nerve Cells Articles:

How hearing loss can change the way nerve cells are wired
Even short-term blockages in hearing can lead to remarkable changes in the auditory system, altering the behavior and structure of nerve cells that relay information from the ear to the brain, according to a new University at Buffalo study.
Lab-grown nerve cells make heart cells throb
Researchers at Johns Hopkins report that a type of lab-grown human nerve cells can partner with heart muscle cells to stimulate contractions.
Nerve-insulating cells more diverse than previously thought
Oligodendrocytes, a type of brain cell that plays a crucial role in diseases such as multiple sclerosis, are more diverse than have previously been thought, according to a new study by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.
Aggregated protein in nerve cells can cause ALS
Persons with the serious disorder ALS, can have a genetic mutation that causes the protein SOD1 to aggregate in motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord.
Aggression causes new nerve cells to be generated in the brain
A group of neurobiologists from Russia and the USA, including Dmitry Smagin, Tatyana Michurina, and Grigori Enikolopov from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, have proven experimentally that aggression has an influence on the production of new nerve cells in the brain.
Researchers grow retinal nerve cells in the lab
Johns Hopkins researchers have developed a method to efficiently turn human stem cells into retinal ganglion cells, the type of nerve cells located within the retina that transmit visual signals from the eye to the brain.
Nerve cells warn brain of damage to the inner ear
Some nerve cells in the inner ear can signal tissue damage in a way similar to pain-sensing nerve cells in the body, according to new research from Johns Hopkins.
It takes a lot of nerve: Scientists make cells to aid peripheral nerve repair
Peripheral nerve injuries, such as those resulting from neuropathies, physical trauma or surgery, are common and can cause partial or complete loss of nerve function and a reduced quality of life.
Nerve cells use each other as maps
When nerve cells form in an embryo they have to be guided to their final position by navigating a kind of molecular and cellular 'map' in order to function properly.
What hundreds of biomolecules tell us about our nerve cells
Researchers at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine, of the University of Luxembourg, have, under Dr.

Related Nerve Cells Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Jumpstarting Creativity
Our greatest breakthroughs and triumphs have one thing in common: creativity. But how do you ignite it? And how do you rekindle it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on jumpstarting creativity. Guests include economist Tim Harford, producer Helen Marriage, artificial intelligence researcher Steve Engels, and behavioral scientist Marily Oppezzo.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".