Researchers map human sensory neurons, pursue chronic pain cure — ScienceDaily

This is an interesting piece of research looking at nerves that convey sensory information  from the periphery to spinal cord.

The area in particular being studied is structure called the Dorsal Root Ganglion (DRG)

The DRG looks like a little notch coming off the main body of the long axis of the nerve and is thought to be a control centre regulating the function of the nerve

Anatomically, the DRG lies within the spinal canal but outside the spinal cord. The  DRG  serves as important centre of communication between the peripheral and central nervous systems,(CNS). The CNS refers to the spinal cord and brain.

To date, the function of the DRG and its’ involvement in pain transmission has only been studied in tissue obtained from animal studies and in particular from mice. The most significant aspect of this work is that researchers were able to access DRG from human samples

The researchers found that neural samples involved in pain transmission from humans was very different to the structure and composition from animal tissue. This gives rise to the possibility of more specific targets and treatments for chronic pain going forward. The researchers specifically looked at the gene make up of the neural cell characteristics.

One of the lead researchers said,

“It’s rare to have access to both the human tissue we used and to the technology.”

They went onto say,

“Our main goal was to fully characterize the whole transcriptome (i.e., genetic make-up) of human DRG neurons because so much of the work that’s been done to find new pain therapeutic targets has been in mice. Our results help clarify why those efforts struggle to produce results.”

Further, they said,

“By describing the neuron types present in human DRG and detailing their gene expression, the team has a much better picture of what the physiological functions are for each gene.”

At ActforPain, we consider it is important that patients understand the physiological pain pathways and how this system becomes disrupted when pain becomes a chronic disease entity. So many patients’ feel confused about what is happening to them and providing an explanation to the fundamentals of what has changed is an important step to acceptance.

Our site provides easy to follow animations  explaining how the pain pathway works and how pain becomes chronic.

It will also help to put research mentioned here into perspective.