Researchers may have found the perfect pain relief tactic after identifying a receptor that plays a crucial role in blocking the pain pathway in the human body.
Dr. Daniela Salvemini at Saint Louis University and colleagues have discovered a way to block a pain pathway in animal models of chronic neuropathic pain including pain caused by chemotherapeutic agents and bone cancer pain suggesting a promising new approach to pain relief.
They demonstrated that turning on a receptor in the brain and spinal cord counteracts chronic nerve pain in male and female rodents. Activating the A3 receptor - either by its native chemical stimulator, the small molecule adenosine, or by powerful synthetic small molecule drugs invented at the NIH - prevents or reverses pain that develops slowly from nerve damage without causing analgesic tolerance or intrinsic reward (unlike opioids).
Salvemini said that their findings suggest that the goal could be achieved by focusing the future work on the A3AR pathway in particular, as its activation provided robust pain reduction across several types of pain.
Researchers were excited to note that A3AR agonists are already in advanced clinical trials as anti-inflammatory and anticancer agents and show good safety profiles.
The research is published in the medical journal Brain.