NIH scientists are attacking chronic pain with a novel form of gene therapy that targets the spinal cord. Though still in the animal testing stage, this approach has overcome one of the major obstacles to gene therapy as a way to manipulate spinal cord function. Rather than injecting genes directly into a localized area of the spinal cord, the pain-relieving gene is introduced into the sheath of tissue that surrounds the cord. From that strategic location, the gene can pump out its product and bathe many nerves, thus extending the range of its pain-numbing effect. The investigators hope that this simplified approach can be used to generate a variety of products in the tissue surrounding nerves, including factors that could stimulate new nerve growth.
The above story is based on materials provided by NIH-National Institute Of Dental And Craniofacial Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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