Scientists reverse chronic pain in mice
In a new animal study, scientists from St. Louis University say they may have found a way to prevent and even reverse chronic pain.
Previous studies have focused on a drug called adenosine, which has been shown to be effective in treating pain, but has also been shown to activate unknown pathways in the body, which can cause severe side effects.
In the new study, the researchers aimed to identify the specific pathway linked to the pain-relieving effects of adenosine. They analyzed more than 300 rodents that had chronic neuropathic pain, or pain resulting from nerve damage.
The researchers found that they could use a small adenosine molecule to activate a receptor in the brain called A3. Activation of the A3 receptor, researchers found, seemed to stop or reverse chronic pain in the rodents. In addition, they found that the A3 activation did not alter the reward center of the rodents' brains, suggesting that the practice would be unlikely to lead to addictive behaviors.
The study's findings, published in the journal Brain, suggest that the A3 receptor pathway needs to be studied further with the goal of developing more effective treatments for chronic pain.