The brain remembers the pain. But if we lose neurons in the memory, it would be a way to “get over” on chronic pain and to achieve control. Should be able to target and erase the memory trace of pain, this study suggests Canada’s McGill University (Montreal), published in the journal Molecular Pain. It’s a whole new avenue of care for chronic pain and to an improved quality of life for millions of people.
Chronic pain is a condition that persists long after the acute pain. This type of pain may follow surgery or injury or be associated with chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. For some, the pain is so overwhelming that they can not even tolerate the touch of clothing on the skin, says Dr. Coderre, attached to McGill.
This research co-funded by the Institutes of Health Research Canada, the Louise and Alan Edwards Foundation, the U.S. NIH, with input from AstraZeneca laboratory, has found the way to our memories of pain stored in the brain. The authors even propose ways to erase these memories, thereby reducing neuronal chronic pain. Our central nervous system (CNS) remembers painful experiences, and as with each event, every experience of pain, leaves a memory trace in our brain. A trace that amplifies the sensation of each repetition of the stimulation sensory, causing pain.
The brain remembers the pain: Professor Coderre gives, for example, the case of a patient with gangrene and the necrotic member is amputated. If the member was painful prior to amputation, pain may persist even after the complete intervention. Any pain that extends for more than a few minutes and leaves a trace in the nervous system.
How our neurons store memories of pain: Recent work has highlighted the key role of a protein, protein kinase M zeta in the development and maintenance of memory. This study shows that the level of protein kinase M zeta increases persistently in the CNS, after a painful stimulus. But if researchers blocked the activity of protein kinase M zeta in neural, then they manage to reverse the hypersensitivity to pain developed by the neurons. By targeting the protein kinase M zeta in the pain pathways, the team believes it could reach new treatments for chronic pain.
This is the first time that we can imagine drugs that target a memory trace of pain to reduce pain hypersensitivity.