Study Links Chronic Pain to Signals in the Brain

For centuries, doctors have tried to find effective ways to treat chronic pain, a devastating neurological disorder that affects almost 90 million Americans. A new study shows that two proteins in the brain trigger the neuronal changes that amplify and sustain this type of pain. The finding may lead to new ways of treating chronic pain. “This is the first [chronic pain] study to show clear molecular targets in the brain,” says Min Zhuo, Ph.D., of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, senior author of the report. “Drugs that inhibit these two proteins may help to reduce chronic pain.”

Study Identifies Gene That Prevents Nerve Cell Death

Many neurological diseases occur when specific groups of neurons die because of nerve damage, toxins, inflammation, or other factors. A new study suggests that activity of a single gene can stop neurons from dying regardless of what triggers this process. The findings could lead to new ways of treating neurodegenerative diseases.