Targeting and silencing spontaneous nerve signals of pain in musculoskeletal conditions

Disease - Chronic pain

Lead applicant - Dr Franziska Denk

Organisation - Kings College London

Type of grant - Special strategic award

Status of grant - Approved

Amount of the original award - £206,466

Start date - 01 March 2022

Reference - TBC

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

To understand how sensory nerve fibres contribute to spontaneous pain in musculoskeletal conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and develop molecules that could target this pain pathway.

Why is this research important?

Current pain-relieving treatments do not work for many people and can have negative side effects such as risk of addiction. It is therefore important to better our understanding of chronic pain and develop better treatments. In this project researchers will use new imaging techniques to investigate nerves that carry sensory information from our body to the spinal cord and brain. Sensory nerves transmit information to our brain that we are in pain when we injure ourselves, however in people with musculoskeletal conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, these nerve fibres emit spontaneous signals which is believed to contribute to flare-ups and spontaneous pain attacks.

How will these findings benefit patients?

Currently there is very little known about how spontaneous pain signals arise. This research will help to determine which nerve fibres develop spontaneous signals of pain. The information may support the development of more effective pain-relieving drug treatments for people living with musculoskeletal conditions.