AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 29, Number 2, 2020


Neuroscientists Focus on Cell Mechanism That Promotes Chronic Pain

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Researchers have discovered a new pain-signaling pathway in nerve cells that eventually could make a good target for new drugs to fight chronic pain. 

The findings, published by a UT Dallas neuroscientist and his colleagues, suggest that inhibiting a process called phosphorylation occurring outside of nerve cells might disrupt pain signals, and provide an alternative to opioid drugs for alleviating chronic pain.  

Dr. Ted Price, the study’s co-author and associate professor of neuroscience in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at UT Dallas, said the finding is significant. 

“We found a key new signaling pathway that can be managed,” Price said. “Now we hope we can use the findings to discover a new drug.” 

Phosphorylation is a biological process that occurs when a kinase — a type of enzyme — attaches a chemical called phosphate to a protein. This common process modifies proteins and their functions. 

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