Missouri researchers examine spinal cord stem cells — 5 takeaways

Alan Condon -  

In the search for alternative modes of pain management, scientists from Saint Louis University studied how neuropathic pain occurs and how it can be turned off in a laboratory, reports Medical Xpress.

Five takeaways:

1. Chronic neuropathic pain can result from numerous injuries and conditions including spinal cord injury, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and cancer.

2. Medical experts estimate that neuropathic pain affects 15 million to 30 million people in the U.S. and the treatment for these people costs over $600 billion.

3. Reacting to nerve injuries, the body generates a molecule called sphingosine-1-phosphate in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord which can trigger the receptor protein sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor subtype 1 on specialized nervous system support cells called astrocytes, resulting in neuroinflammation.

4. The study found that activation and not inhibition of S1PR1 drives neuropathic pain and turning S1PR1 off is needed to inhibit its growth while also reversing neuropathic pain once established.

5. The results have opened the door to develop new pain management medications without the risks and side-effects of opioids.

Daniela Salvemini, PhD, professor of pharmacology and director of The Henry And Amelia Nasrallah Center for Neuroscience at Saint Louis University told Medical Xpress, "our results establish S1PR1 as a good target for developing new therapies, creating a new class of non-narcotic pain-killers."

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