PainRelief.com Interview with:
Kimberley Tolias, Ph.D.
Department of Neuroscience
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX 77030
PainRelief.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Neuropathic pain is a chronic pain condition that affects millions of people worldwide, significantly impairing their quality of life. Symptoms of neuropathic pain include spontaneous shooting or burning pain, pain from activities that don’t normally cause pain (allodynia), and heightened pain sensitivity (hyperalgesia). Current treatment options for neuropathic pain, such as opioids, focus on symptom suppression and are generally ineffective and often cause unwanted side effect. In order to develop safer, more effective chronic pain treatments, we need to better understand the processes that lead to neuropathic pain.
Neuropathic pain is caused by nerve damage from a variety of insults (e.g., injury, disease, infection, chemotherapy drugs), which trigger structural and functional changes in the neurons and synaptic connections that transmit pain signals. These activity-dependent alterations in somatosensory neural circuits are thought to be responsible for the persistent symptoms associated with chronic pain, but how they are induced and maintained following nerve injury or disease remains unclear. To address this problem, our research team, including lead and co-corresponding author Dr. Lingyong Li (now at University of Alabama at Birmingham), investigated the mechanisms that underlie neuropathic pain, with the goal of identifying strategies to prevent or control it.Continue reading