A gene responsible for regulating chronic pain have been identified which as per the scientists could help in developing more effective painkillers.
Researchers at the Cambridge University isolated a gene, called HCN2. It produces a protein that causes chronic neuropathic pain, which is linked to nerve damage and often very difficult to control.
The research published in the journal Science finds that removing or blocking this gene eliminates neuropathic pain without affecting normal pain sensation.
Scientists from Cambridge University say the discovery should help drug researchers in the search for more effective targeted pain killing medicines.
Study leader Peter McNaughton said people suffering from neuropathic pain often have little or no respite because of the lack of effective medications.
Chronic pain comes in two main varieties. The first is the inflammatory pain which occurs when a persistent injury results in an enhanced sensitivity of pain-sensitive nerve endings, thus increasing the sensation of pain.
The second variety of chronic pain is the neuropathic pain, in which nerve damage causes on-going pain and a hypersensitivity to stimuli and is also a common component of lower back pain and other chronic painful conditions.
“Individuals suffering from neuropathic pain often have little or no respite because of the lack of effective medications. Our research lays the groundwork for the development of new drugs to treat chronic pain by blocking HCN2,” said lead researcher Professor Peter McNaughton, Head of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Cambridge.
The researchers engineered the removal of the HCN2 gene from pain-sensitive nerves and then carried out studies using electrical stimuli on these nerves in cell cultures to determine how their properties were altered by the removal of HCN2.
Scientists also found that deleting HCN2 does not affect normal acute pain.