A new molecule has been identified by researchers at Hiroshima University which could show incredible promise in treating neuropathic pain treatment and possibly in reducing the rate of opioid addiction among individuals who suffer from chronic pain. The researchers identified the specific molecule responsible for maintaining pain after a nerve injury occurs, and determined that it was possible to block the pain impulses caused by this molecule in mice. A therapeutic strategy to treat chronic and neuropathic pain could be developed as a result of the research. The researchers injected mice with drugs designed to block the specific activity of two different molecules, and pain symptoms delivered from the nearby nerves were blocked. Mice who had injured sciatic nerves displayed less pain after the drug injections to block the molecule activity.
The mice in the study on neuropathic pain treatment received multiple injections of a specific drug that blocked high-mobility group box-1molecules. After the injections the mice showed less pain symptoms. Another drug used to block matrix metalloprotease-9 or MMP-9 molecules required just a single injection in order to alleviate the chronic pain the mice experienced. The team was led by Hiroshima University’s Institute of Biomedical and Health Sciences researcher and professor Yoshihiro Nakata, PhD. The current high rates of opioid addiction have caused alarm, but not treating chronic pain with effective treatments is not an option. Blocking pain impulses could lead to the development of pain management methods that do not rely on dangerous and addictive drugs, and this could reduce or even eliminate addiction caused by narcotic pain medications.