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Chronic Pain Gene Found: Relief May Follow

Millions of people around the world suffer from some form of chronic pain. For some, it is due to an old injury to the back which is annoying all of the time and debilitating enough of the time to be a serious problem which intrudes upon both work and home life. The bad news is that most pain medications simply do not offer any real long lasting relief from the pain. The good news is that that may soon change.

According to an article posted on Newsı on September 12, 2011 scientists from the University of Cambridge and the University of Cadiz have finally happened on the gene that is responsible for chronic pain, which means that soon drugs that can block this pain may be available.

Although the research has only been done on mice so far, scientists have found that removing the gene HCN2 from the pain nerves in mice stopped them from the chronic hypersensitivity to pain caused by nerve damage although short term pain such as that felt by a pressure or heat was not affected.

"Our research lays the groundwork for the development of new drugs to treat chronic pain by blocking HCN2," Study leader Peter McNaughton.

The problem seems to be that HCN2 also plays a role in regulating heartbeat so it may be difficult to manufacture a safe medication for blocking the gene.

"Drug companies have developed HCN2 blockers already, but this area of work has been abandoned for fear of adverse side effects", John Wood, who researches pain at University College London.

McNaughton, however, remains positive. "An HCN4 blocker is already used to treat angina," he says. "We were able to give mice a dose of this drug that affected their neuropathic pain but didn't significantly alter their heartbeat." Although it might be too risky to trial the drug in people with neuropathic pain but no heartırelated problems, tweaking it so that it targets only HCN2 protein ion channels in neurons responsible for pain processing could be the way to go, he said.

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