Researchers unveil new pain relief hope

A study of the immune system has revealed a “totally novel” mechanism for pain relief, according to Spanish researchers.

Professor Enrique Cobos del Moral and colleagues at the University of Granada, Spain, carried out tests on mice exposed to pressure and heat. They found that a very small protein present in neurons, the sigma-1 receptor, can affect opioid receptors.

Professor Cobos del Moral said: "We present a totally novel pain relief mechanism, based on maximising the analgesic potential of the immune system cells, and which could have important therapeutic applications in patients with pain of inflammatory origin.”

The team reported recently in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesthat sigma-1 receptor blockers "are capable of increasing the effect of endogenous opioid peptides produced by leukocytes, so that these cells relieve pain instead of producing it when they are in the inflamed tissue.”

They added: "New pain medications with novel mechanisms of action are needed.

“Here we show that sigma-1 antagonism decreases inflammatory pain hypersensitivity by enhancing the actions of endogenous opioid peptides produced by leukocytes in mice.

"Sigma-1 antagonism results in opioid analgesia only at the inflamed site, where immune cells naturally accumulate. This mechanism, which maximises the analgesic potential of immune cells in painful inflamed sites, differs from that of conventional analgesics."

The team believe this represents a totally new pain relief mechanism which could have important therapeutic applications. They are already collaborating with pharmaceutical companies and another research team in Austria.

They conclude: "Our findings suggest that sigma-1 antagonists merit further research as potential agents for the treatment of inflammatory pain."

 

Credit by Englemed Health News

 

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