Is there an off-switch for pain?
Pain is an enormous problem. As an unmet medical need, pain causes suffering and comes with a multi-billion dollar societal cost. Current treatments are problematic because they cause intolerable side effects, diminish the quality of life and do not sufficiently quell the pain.
The most successful pharmacological approaches for the treatment of chronic pain rely on certain “pathways”: circuits involving opioid, adrenergic, and calcium channels.
For the past decade, scientists have tried to take advantage of these known pathways — the series of interactions between molecular-level components that lead to pain. While adenosine had shown potential for pain-killing in humans, researchers had not yet successfully leveraged this particular pain pathway because the targeted receptors engaged many side effects.
A Key to Pain Relief
In this research, Salvemini and colleagues have demonstrated that activation of the A3 adenosine receptor subtype is key in mediating the pain-relieving effects of adenosine.
“It has long been appreciated that harnessing the potent pain-killing effects of adenosine could provide a breakthrough step towards an effective treatment for chronic pain,” Salvemini said. “Our findings suggest that this goal may be achieved by focusing future work on the A3AR pathway, in particular, as its activation provides robust pain reduction across several types of pain.”
The good news is that all of the types of drugs needed to activate the receptors to allow this treatment have already gone to advanced clinical trials — and they are working for chronic and even cancer-related issues in test animals and humans. Now, all that is needed is the last piece — a piece which is already working in test animals