Neuropathic pain, both acute and chronic, affects the quality of life in millions of people in the United States.
Neuropathic pain, known as nerve pain is a type of chronic pain that is triggered by lesions to the somatosensory nervous system or dysfunction when nerves or spinal cord become injured or damaged.
Because the nerves/axons are damaged after spinal cord injury, the communication between the brain and the peripheral nerves is disrupted and thus creating the experience of pain from the site of injury and below (even in locations with little to no sensation or feeling). It can be hard to distinguish where the pain lies, and if it really a neurogenic (neuropathic) or another kind of pain.
At present no clinically-effective anti-nociceptive therapy which would target selected spinal segments and be without systemic side effect is available.
Systemic analgesics and conservative therapies are effective in controlling chronic pain for the majority of patients. However, patients with neuropathic pain, require more aggressive therapy to directly modulate pain transmission in the central nervous system. In addition, the use of opioids (to treat some form of chronic pain) can lead to addiction and drug abuse.
To achieve a more potent treatment of neuropathic pain without systemic side effect(s), we have developed a novel spinal subpial gene delivery technique which can effectively target dorsal horn nociceptive neurons in selected spinal segment(s) and have identified a combination of genes which after expression in excitatory nociceptive interneurons led to a potent and long-lasting reversal of neuropathic pain.
The aim of our research in the field of neuropathic pain is to develop a new treatment approach which will:
- lead to a long-lasting and clinically relevant relief of neuropathic pain resulting from spinal or peripheral nerve injury,
- be characterized by a specific spinal cord segment-targeted treatment effect
- be without significant systemic or segmental side effect(s) such as sedation or motor weakness