The Origins of Chronic Pain may be identified in a map of our minds

The Origins of Chronic Pain may be identified in a map of our minds ...

Researchers from The University of Texas at DallasCenter for Advanced Pain Studies have provided valuable insights in the quest for more effective treatments for chronic pain.

Dr. Ted Price, a co-author of an a study on the topic of Science Translational Medicine, which reveals the entire spectrum of messenger RNA (mRNA) strands that formed the transcriptome produced in these cells.

Because mRNA is a single-stranded copy of a gene that can be translated into protein, the findings provide neuroscientists with a much better understanding of which genes are expressed in DRG neurons. The study also reinforces the value of human tissue as opposed to animal cells in the pursuit of pain treatments.

DRG neurons are specialized nerve cells located near the spine. They have not been completed previously with humans due to the lack of their funding.

Were we one of the few countries with access to human donor DRG tissue developed specifically for research, according to Stephanie Shiers, a neuroscience research scientist and a joint first author.

Demonstrating Differences

Prior studies by Shiers argued that significant differences between the nociceptors in mice and humans were found. That explanation was why proposed pain medications that succeed in mice failed in humans.

This paper is the next step, revealing the profound significance of these differences, according to Price. An entire set of nociceptors that many people study in mice simply aren''t found in humans. There are subtypes in humans that aren''t found even in nonhuman primates.

It is not that we should abandon all existing nonhuman forms of pain. Some are very good, while others arent depending on what you want to learn. When it comes to this aspect of pain, our research demonstrates which is.

Were now able to use pain therapy in a more specific way and to examine how chronic pain affects people in a different way. My hope is that our findings may alter the way people do research in our field.

Ashbel Smith Professor of Neuroscience at the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Dr. Ted Price BS97

The researchers used a new technique called spatial transcriptomics, which has improved capabilities in comparison to single-cell RNA sequencing to profil all gene activity in a DRG tissue sample.

It''s rare to have access to both the human tissue we used as well as the technology, according to Dr. Diana Tavares-Ferreira, a co-first and co-corresponding author of the study and a CAPS researcher. Spatial transcriptomics allows us to decoup the enormous size of these neurons and to observe with some certainty where and how one gene is expressed in humans.

We wanted to fully characterize the entire transcriptome of human DRG neurons because so much of the effort we had to get new pain therapeutic properties has been done in mice. Our results help explain why these efforts fail to produce results.

Better Physiological Picture

Price said that by describing the neuron types found in the human DRG and enacting their gene expression, the team has a much better understanding of what physiological functions are for each gene.

With that knowledge, anyone may also use our data to pursue drug targets they couldn''t have previously been, but in some cases we also do not need to use mice at all times. We may also use human information, according to a consultant.

Price said eliminating this dependency on animal models a major shift, because it allows scientists to understand how any cell type might interact with any neuron in the human peripheral nervous system.

Price said that we are now capable of focusing on developing pain therapies in a more specific manner and to consider how chronic pain affects people in a different way. I hope that our findings may alter the way people do research in our field. It is a roadmap that we will use, and others are welcome to follow.

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