British researchers have isolated a specific gene in the pain-sensitive nerves of mice which they believe is responsible for the feeling of chronic pain. For the study, researchers removed the HCN2 gene from the mice’s nerves. “They then carried out studies using electrical stimuli on these nerves in cell cultures to determine how they were altered by the removal of HCN2.” Isolating and blocking the gene resulted in the alleviation of chronic pain, but not acute pain.
What’s the Big Idea?
The difficulty of treating chronic pain, which results from either a persistent injury such as arthritis or neuropathic pain caused by nerve damage, makes the newest discovery important. “Individuals suffering from neuropathic pain often have little or no respite because of the lack of effective medications. Our research lays the groundwork for the development of new drugs to treat chronic pain by blocking HCN2,” the study says. Acute pain, like biting one’s tongue, is necessary to prevent day-to-day accidents and is not affected by removing HCN2.