New Drug Combo Eliminates Chronic Pain after Injury (Well, at Least in Mice)

New Drug Combo Eliminates Chronic Pain after Injury (Well, at Least in Mice)

If only humans could benefit from new research like mice do.

Another groundbreaking finding while studying mice – this one out of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and published in the journal Nature Neuroscience – “has completely eliminated chronic pain behavior.”

The new findings represent a significant breakthrough in understanding that a region of the brain, which regulates feelings of happiness, sadness and addiction, is remodeled by chronic pain.  More importantly, the researchers have created a two-drug combination that restores this region, resulting in dramatically reduced pain symptoms.

The two-drug combination includes a Parkinson’s drug, L-dopa, and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.  When combined, the drugs target the brain’s circuits in the nucleus accumbens, and eliminate chronic pain behavior.  The study authors noted “the key is administering the drugs together and shortly after injury,” which leaves open the question of whether such treatments could benefit people suffering in pain for long periods of time.

“It was surprising to us that chronic pain actually rewires the part of the brain controlling whether you feel happy or sad,” said corresponding author D. James Surmeier, chair of physiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in a press release.  “By understanding what was causing these changes, we were able to design a corrective therapy that worked remarkably well in the models.  The question now is whether it will work in humans.”

“The study shows you can think of chronic pain as the brain getting addicted to pain,” said A. Vania Apkarian, professor of physiology at Feinberg, and co-author of the study.  “The brain circuit that has to do with addiction has gotten involved in the pain process itself.”

“It is remarkable that by changing the activity of a single cell type in an emotional area of the brain, we can prevent the pain behavior,” said Marco Martina, associate professor of physiology at Feinberg and also a co-author of the study.

Well, the mice in Evanston, Illinois, are surely feeling better, just as the mice in London are enjoying their “recipe for painlessness.”  But will humans ever get a crack at experiencing this new drug combination?

The good news is, yes.  The new research has scientists excited enough to begin pursuing a clinical trial in humans.  Information regarding when such a clinical trial will begin is currently unavailable.

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Authored by: Staff

There are 3 comments for this article
  1. Kristine (Krissy) at 9:34 am

    Doc Anon – I though of the same things. I cringed when I saw the “a” word. Bad choice on the part of the scientists. Dependent, if any, would have been a little more tolerable.

    But that said, I was encouraged to read this. Even if it can’t help the old folks (30 years of c. pain like me), it gives hope to the thoughts on the younger generations.

    I wonder how this combo works. I take a similar of L-Dopa for restless legs/arms, and I’m at a very high does, and I’ve taken NSAIDS for decades. Maybe that can’t be comparative, but hopefully hope is on the horizon. (A fine alliteration, I must say.)

  2. Scott michaels at 8:26 am

    why is all of this information coming out now. i dont thiks its a coincidence with the cdc and its bogus guidelines. the govt is handing any body that says they can stop pain without opioids tons of money.
    Now everycrack pot snale oil sales person is tryng to sell stull that osnt going to help. IF ANYHIMG IS CREATED TO STOP CHRONIC PAIN COMETELY THAT MEANS IF YOU PUT YOUR HAND IN FIRE YOU WONT FEEL IT. IF YOU HAVE CHEST PAIN YOU WONT FEEL IT. BE VERY CAREFUL EVERYBODY. KEEP WRITING TO THE CDC FDA AND THE PRESITENTIAL CANDIDATES
    OUR EXISTING PRESIDENT IS WORTHLESS. IF HE TOOK THE BILLIONS HES THROWING AT A NON EXISTANT PROBLEM. ALL OF THAT MONEY SHOUD GO DIRECTLY TO STOPING HEROIN FROM BEING PRODUCEZ AND BROUGHT I TO THIS COUNTRY.

  3. Doc Anonymous at 5:18 am

    The combination of L-Dopa and NSAIDS has certainly been used in a large number of people with Parkinson’s Disease. A retrospective analysis should be able to give some information about the intensity of “pain behavior” relative to dose/frequency of NSAID use in people who are already taking L-Dopa.

    Second, I have to shudder at the statement in the article that pain behavior is like the brain getting “addicted” to pain. That seems to me to open the door to more diversion of pain treatment into the realm of “Addiction” treatment, rather than enhance a better scientific understanding of the true electronic nature of chronic pain.

    For one thing, the treatment of addiction involves in part an abstinence from the addicting substance. There is simply no way in medicine to achieve “abstinence from pain.”