Managing neuropathic pain with light

Scientists at EMBL Rome develop the new method that uses light to manage neuropathic pain in mice.


For patients with neuropathic pain- a constant disease influencing 7 to 8% of the European populace, with no compelling treatment – this can be a day by day reality. Researchers from EMBL Rome have now distinguished an extraordinary populace of nerve cells in the skin that are in charge of affectability to delicate touch. These are likewise the cells that cause serious agony in patients with neuropathic torment.

Under the guidance of Paul Heppenstall, EMBL scientists have developed a light-sensitive chemical that specifically ties to this kind of nerve cell. By first infusing the influenced skin region with the compound and after that enlightening it with close infrared light, the focused on nerve cells withdraw from the skin’s surface, prompting relief from pain.

Heppenstall said, “By clipping off the nerve endings with light, the gentle touch that can cause severe pain in neuropathic patients is no longer felt. It’s like eating a strong curry, which burns the nerve endings in your mouth and desensitizes them for some time. The nice thing about our technique is that we can specifically target the small subgroup of neurons causing neuropathic pain.”

Touch and pain were evaluated by estimating reflexes in mice influenced by neuropathic pain in their limbs. Influenced mice will ordinarily rapidly pull back their paw when it is delicately touched. After the light treatment, be that as it may, they displayed typical reflexes upon delicate touch. The impact of the treatment goes on for fourteen days, after which the nerve endings become back and delicate touch causes torment once more.

The group additionally examined human skin tissue. The general cosmetics of the tissue and the specifics of the neurons of intrigue give off an impression of being comparable, demonstrating that the technique may be compelling in overseeing neuropathic torment in people.

Heppenstall said, “In the end, our aim is to solve the problem of pain in both humans and animals. Of course, a lot of work needs to be done before we can do a similar study in people with neuropathic pain. That’s why we’re now actively looking for partners and are open for new collaborations to develop this method further, with the hope of one day using it in the clinic.”

Scientists reported their findings in Nature Communications.

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