Old drugs hint at new ways to beat chronic pain

Pain is an important alarm system that alerts us to tissue damage and prompts us to withdraw from harmful situations. Pain is expected to subside as injuries heal, but many patients experience persistent pain long after recovery. Now, a new study published in Science Translational Medicine points to possible new treatments for chronic pain with a surprising link to lung cancer. The work was spearheaded by an international team of researchers at IMBA – Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Harvard Medical School, and Boston Children’s Hospital. Their findings of the research, conducted in laboratory mouse models, open up multiple therapeutic opportunities that could allow the world to improve chronic pain management and eclipse the opioid epidemic.

Visualizing pain in mouse sensory neurons. Mouse sensory neurons are shown in green. BH4, the molecule driving chronic pain, is shown in magenta. Hence, the neurons “in pain” are seen in magenta/white. ©Cronin/IMBA

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