A molecule promising for pain sufferers was discovered by the researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, according to a report published on March 27, 2019.
During fetal stage, if a particular protein is missing, neurons that convey pain, temperature, and itch will not be developed. From the researches that were conducted earlier, five genes associated with aberrant pain experiences were discovered. A person born with a mutation of one of these genes (PRDM12) is unable to feel pain, which causes considerable problems. The mechanism responsible for this faulty pain function is still unknown.
To find the mechanism, an experiment was conducted on mice by the research team, wherein the expression of the PRDM12 gene in the stem cells that gave rise to different kinds of neuron was blocked. They found that the mice developed no neurons that register pain, temperature, and itch. Another experiment was conducted on chickens, wherein the researchers enhanced the expression of the PRDM12 gene in the neuronal stem cells, thinking that more pain cells would develop, however, that was not the case. This indicates that the protein PRDM12 needs helper substances or cofactors.
Saida Hadjab, senior researcher at the Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet said, “To find out more about this, we should start by removing the protein from adult animals’ pain neurons to see what happens. Will they no longer be able to feel pain? If we can then identify the cofactors, we can develop new targeted drugs that can reduce pain symptoms in people with pain conditions.”