Future Pain Relief Possibilities
Why do some people have COVID but don’t even know it? It’s posited that SARS-CoV-2 infection can block pain. While that’s bad for people with the infection, who may be unaware that they are even sick and potentially spreading the disease, the process may offer “unexpected new possibilities for research into pain relief medication.” Proteins on cells trigger pain signals that are transmitted to the brain. An earlier report “showed that the infamous spike proteins on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus bound to a protein called neuropilin-1. This means that the virus can also use this protein to invade nerve cells as well as through the ACE2 protein.”
Data show that SARS-CoV-2 spike protein disrupts pain signaling; consequently, it works as an analgesic in a nerve injury rat model. Pain, as an early symptom of COVID-19, may be directly dampened by the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. “…SARS-CoV-2 spike protein may yield a novel class of therapeutics for pain.” It may block vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A)—a pro-nociceptive and angiogenic factor—which contributes to pain, as observed in osteoarthritis: increased VEGF expression in synovial fluids has been associated with higher pain scores. In normal animals, animals with nerve injury, and diabetic animals, VEGF-A has been reported to enhance pain behaviors. More research is called for.
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