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Pain Roundup

February 8, 2008

Researchers derail chronic pain by targeting pain receptors in the spine.


Keeping pain from reaching the brain. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The spinal cord is a highway for nerve signals traveling to the brain, including pain signals. But the spinal cord also has nerves that stop pain signals. In people suffering from chronic pain, these filters have stopped doing their job. Reporting in the journal Nature, scientists in Zurich have identified the precise chemical receptors in the spine responsible for stopping pain. By targeting them directly, instead of having patients take drugs that affect the whole body, researchers may be able to stop the pain without causing side effects or addiction.

In other research, a team at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York reports on a technique that uses a virus to ferry genes into spinal nerve cells. The genes produce a painkilling substance right where it’s needed, and remain working for several months. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.