Neuropathic Pain Treatment: Study Suggests New Therapeutic Target

Results of research reported recently in the Journal of Neuroscience may advance our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underlie peripheral neuropathy. The National Institutes of Health has estimated that the condition affects some 20 million patients in the US in some form and is a comorbidity of diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and other conditions. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy, one of the most common presentations, is characterized by pain and numbness in the feet that can progress up the legs. The new findings center on brain activity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), thought to be the area most consistently involved in pain processing.

In the current study involving laboratory rats, researchers from Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital at McGill University found that blocking a specific type of transmission channel, called hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels, reduced overstimulation of the ACC and dramatically decreased feelings of pain. Lead author Philippe Séguéla, PhD, stated in a University press release, “We were able to show that reducing hyperexcitability of the ACC by blocking the HCN channels had analgesic effects—basically the feelings of pain were dramatically decreased. This gives us new perspectives on therapeutic strategies that could target the HCN channels to help relieve chronic pain.”

Read a Pain Reporter interview with the lead researcher of a neuropathic pain study.

Read about neuropathic pain and reticulum stress, here.

Read more about the new research here.

The journal abstract may be accessed here.

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