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Chronic Pain Receptors

June 9, 2017

Stopping pain may require getting pain meds inside nerve cells.



Getting to the root of pain. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Today’s pain medications aren’t safe and effective enough for long-term management of chronic pain. In the journal Science Translational Medicine, scientists report that pain receptors on the surface of nerve cells may migrate inside the cell, into chambers called endosomes, where pain meds can’t reach them. Columbia researcher Nigel Bunnett and his colleagues report testing a modified drug that penetrates into nerve cells.

NIGEL BUNNETT (Columbia University Medical Center):

These drugs arrest the function of the receptor in endosomes for prolonged periods and thereby promote long-lasting pain relief.


He says pain receptors are part of a large family of cell receptors implicated in many conditions. So this discovery could lead not only to new pain meds, but other drugs that work inside cells, rather than just on their surface. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon