Researchers identify a new molecular player in chronic pain

TORONTO, Aug. 13 /CNW/ - Researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children
(HSC) and the National Institute of Health Sciences in Japan have identified a
molecule that causes neuropathic pain, a sharp and chronic pain associated
with nerve injury and diseases affecting the nervous system. This finding may
lead to a new and previously unknown way of treating chronic pain. This
research is reported in the August 14 issue of the scientific journal Nature.
Neuropathic pain is a common and severely disabling state that affects
millions of people worldwide. This type of pain may be experienced after nerve
injury or from diseases that affect peripheral nerve function, such as
diabetes, and can also be a component of pain in other conditions, such as
cancer. Neuropathic pain can be so severe that even the light touch of
clothing can be intensely painful and is often resistant to all treatments
"We have found that cells in the spinal cord use the P2X(4) receptor to
induce neuropathic pain. This discovery suggests that an agent that could
block the receptor could be an effective therapy for this debilitating pain,"
says study co-author Dr. Michael Salter, senior scientist at HSC and director
of the University of Toronto Centre for the Study of Pain. "Our research is
now focused on developing more specific and potent blockers that will be able
to reach P2X(4) receptors in the spinal cord when given by mouth or systemic
The work was primarily done in the laboratory of principal investigator
Dr. Kazu Inoue at the National Institute of Health Science. Dr. Makoto Tsuda,
lead author of the study, is a research fellow supported by the HSC Research
Training Centre in the laboratory of Dr. Salter. This research was supported
by grants from the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports, and Culture of
Japan, and from the Japan Health Sciences Foundation. Dr. Salter is an
Investigator of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
The Hospital for Sick Children, affiliated with the University of
Toronto, is Canada's most research-intensive hospital and the largest centre
dedicated to improving children's health in the country. Its mission is to
provide the best in family-centred, compassionate care, to lead in scientific
and clinical advancement, and to prepare the next generation of leaders in
child health. For more information, please visit

For further information: Lisa Lipkin, Public Affairs, The Hospital for
Sick Children, (416) 813-6380;
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