• Identification of Cell Signaling Pathway may Illuminate Future Research and Treatment of RA
    Researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) have identified a new cell signaling pathway that contributes to the development and progression of inflammatory bone erosion, which occurs in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Bone erosion in joints is a major cause of disability in RA patients. The findings were published online this month in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic inflammatory autoimmune disease that affects millions of people worldwide. Earlier research identified a variant in a gene called RBP-J that is associated with the development of RA, but its specific role was unknown. The study authors believe that their success in discovering the RBP-J controlled signaling pathway will provide potential novel therapeutic targets for the prevention and treatment of RA, thus opening a new avenue for both basic research and clinical care. A news story about the study may be read here.
  • Study Suggests New Marker for Chronic Pain Susceptibility
    A study published this month in the Journal of Pain by researchers at the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine finds a relationship between the level of postexercise pain sensitivity and the likelihood of developing chronic pain. The results suggest that exercise could be a valuable component in helping doctors predict susceptibility to pain, particularly following injury or surgery. The phenomenon of pain reduction after exercise is known as "exercise-induced hypoanalgesia" or (EIH). The authors believe that an individual's EIH profile can indicate how efficiently their body modulates pain. Chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, migraine, chronic low back pain, and temporomandibular disorder have been shown to be associated with faulty pain modulation. Read more about the findings here.
  • New Research Seeks to Advance Understanding, Improve Treatments of Substance Abuse
    A press release last week from the National Institutes of Health announced the awarding of some $11 million over 3 years to support research exploring the use of social media to advance the scientific understanding, prevention, and treatment of substance use and addiction. The awards are funded through the Collaborative Research on Addiction at NIH (CRAN), an NIH consortium involving the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The announcement notes the potential of interactive platforms such as Facebook and Twitter as tools to help scientists identify prevailing attitudes and myths and to gain insights into patterns of use, risk factors, and behaviors associated with substance use and misuse. By providing a platform for communicating science-based, health-related messages, social media may also enhance screening, prevention, and treatment of substance use and addiction. Read the NIH press release, with additional information on the funded projects, here.
  • Molecular Discovery May Advance Disease Prevention and Treatment
    New research published this week in the journal Immunity advances our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the onset of chronic inflammation. The discovery of 2 microRNA molecules that appear to control inflammation may also enable the development of more effective treatments for the subsequent ailments, such as cancer or autoimmune disorder that often occur, especially with aging. Previous studies have shown that chronic inflammation is linked to the development of certain conditions including diabetes, lupus, arthritis, obesity, cancer, neurodegeneration, and cardiovascular disease along with a shortened life span. Certain types of immune cells, called T follicular helper cells, are known to promote the production of antibodies that attack our own tissues and contribute to chronic inflammation. This study found that the microRNAs at issue are produced by and act to control these important cell types. Read more about the research here.    
Daniel Carr, MD, FABPM
Pain Research, Education, and Policy Program
Department of Public Health and Community Medicine
Tufts Medical Center
Boston, MA


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