Gene therapy for pain can be safe, non-addictive. Opioids Options Represent. Researchers developed new therapeutic approaches in which they temporarily suppressed a gene involved in pain sensation. This increased pain tolerance in mice, reduced their sensitivity to pain, and relieved pain for several months without causing numbness.
The promise of gene therapy for pain
Gene therapy can be used to treat a wide range of chronic pain conditions. Such pain ranges from lower back pain to rare neuropathic pain disorders. The latter are conditions for which pain medication is the current standard of care. On the other hand, opioids can make people more susceptible to pain over time. This leads to the fact that they have to depend on ever higher doses. A genetic mutation investigated by researchers inactivates a protein in spinal cord neurons. This is called NaV1.7. Without functional NaV1.7, some hot or sharp touching sensations are not registered as pain. The team also developed a CRISPR / dead Cas9 system to target and repress genes coded for NaV1.7. He administered it to rats with inflammatory and chemotherapy-induced pain. Test animals showed higher pain thresholds than mice that did not receive this gene therapy for pain.
To validate their results, the researchers ran similar tests using a different instrument. It was about technology older than CRISPR that does similar work. Here, the researchers designed zinc fingers that similarly bind to the target of the gene and block the expression of NaV1.7. Spinal injection of zinc fingers into mice gave results similar to the CRISPR-dead Cas9 system. Scientists claim that this solution can work in a large number of chronic pain conditions. This includes diabetic polyneuropathy, erythromelalgia, sciatica and osteoarthritis. Treatment can also provide relief for patients undergoing chemotherapy. Subsequently, researchers will work to optimize both approaches to target human genes. You will experiment on non-human primates to test efficacy and toxicity. Also, the authors go on This study Human clinical trials are expected to begin in a few years.