Researchers from Saint Louis University and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) report success in animal studies in blocking a pathway associated with chronic neuropathic pain including pain caused by chemotherapeutic agents and bone cancer pain. The authors, writing in the journal Brain, suggest the findings may illuminate a promising new approach to pain relief.
The study team found that activating the A3 receptor in the brain of rodents – either by its native chemical stimulator, the small molecule adenosine, or by powerful synthetic small molecule drugs invented at the NIH – prevents or reverses pain that develops slowly from nerve damage without causing analgesic tolerance or intrinsic reward that are associated with opioid therapy. The researchers note that A3 adenosine receptor agonists are already in advanced clinical trials as anti-inflammatory and anticancer agents and show good safety profiles. They are hopeful that these can be developed as new therapeutics to treat chronic pain in humans. Read more about the findings here.