Researchers from Monash University have developed a new drug delivery strategy able to block pain within the nerve cells, in what could be a major development of an immediate and long lasting treatment for pain.

One in five Australians live with chronic pain and this figure is expected to grow, driven by the increased life expectancy, increasing incidence of diabetes and cancer, combined with better survival rates, often leaving patients with severe and poorly treated pain. The global market for nerve pain treatments is over US$600 billion and yet current pain therapies are not completely effective and often suffer from unwanted side effects.

Research published today in the journal, Science Translational Medicine, reveals how a target protein, long known to be associated with both chronic and acute pain, works within the nerve cell. This protein is the NK1 receptor, the receptor of the neuropeptide substance P, which mediates pain transmission. Because of its association with pain and other diseases of the nervous system, many drug development attempts have focused on inhibiting this receptor, but the efficacy of these treatments has been very limited. This new work shows that such ineffectiveness could be in part because the treatments targeted the protein on the surface of the nerve cell.

Read more at Monash University