A team at Saint Louis University, led by Dr. Daniela Salvemini, have successfully been able to ‘switch off’ some chronic pain in rodents by activating the A3 adenosine receptor in the brain. By using either pharmacological intervention or native chemicals, the team was able to exploit known pain ‘pathways’ and new techniques.
Chronic pain is a great problem both to the individual and to society. The loss of economic productivity, and the cost of pain medication can be great. The debilitating effects on the individual, as well as the prevalence of well-documented stigma surrounding those who suffer from chronic, hard-to-treat pain, make the elimination of chronic pain hugely desirable.
Current problems with the elimination of pain surround the side effects of pain medication. Sufficient pharmacological intervention to reduce such pain can be incredibly problematic and leave the patient in an equally undesirable condition. For example, we could consider the life-shortening properties of opiates and the dull state they leave patients in.
This study shows the potential benefits of activating the A3 andenosine receptors in conjunction with the administration of andenosine in human subjects, for the potential for chronic pain relief without side effects.