Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

One molecule blocks both pain and itch, discovered in mouse study

Date:
May 22, 2014
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
An antibody that simultaneously blocks the sensations of pain and itching has been found in studies with mice. The new antibody works by targeting the voltage-sensitive sodium channels in the cell membrane of neurons. "We hope our discovery will garner interest from pharmaceutical companies that can help us expand our studies into clinical trials," said one researcher.

Duke University researchers have found an antibody that simultaneously blocks the sensations of pain and itching in studies with mice.

The new antibody works by targeting the voltage-sensitive sodium channels in the cell membrane of neurons. The results appear online on May 22 in Cell.

Voltage-sensitive sodium channels control the flow of sodium ions through the neuron's membrane. These channels open and close by responding to the electric current or action potential of the cells. One particular type of sodium channel, called the Nav1.7 subtype, is responsible for sensing pain.

Mutations in the human gene encoding the Nav1.7 sodium channel can lead to either the inability to sense pain or pain hypersensitivity. Interestingly, these mutations do not affect other sensations such as touch or temperature. Hence, the Nav1.7 sodium channel might be a very specific target for treating pain disorders without perturbing the patients' ability to feel other sensations.

"Originally, I was interested in isolating these sodium channels from cells to study their structure," said Seok-Yong Lee, assistant professor of biochemistry in the Duke University Medical School and principal investigator of the study. He designed antibodies that would capture the sodium channels so that he could study them. "But then I thought, what if I could make an antibody that interferes with the channel function?"

The team first tested the antibody in cultured cells engineered to express the Nav1.7 sodium channel. They found that the antibody can bind to the channel and stabilize its closed state.

"The channel is off when it is closed," Lee explained. "Since the antibody stabilizes the closed state, the channel becomes less sensitive to pain." If this held true in live animals, then the animals would also be less sensitive to pain.

To test this idea, Lee sought the help of Ru-Rong Ji, professor of anesthesiology and neurobiology, who is an expert in the study of pain and itch sensation. Using laboratory mouse models of inflammatory and neuropathic pain, they showed that the antibody can target the Nav1.7 channel and reduce the pain sensation in these mice. More importantly, mice receiving the treatment did not show signs of physical dependence or enhanced tolerance toward the antibody.

"Pain and itch are distinct sensations, and pain is often known to suppress itch," said Ji. The team found that the antibody can also relieve acute and chronic itch in mouse models, making them the first to discover the role of Nav1.7 in transmitting the itch sensation.

"Now we have a compound that can potentially treat both pain and itch at the same time," said Lee. Both of these symptoms are common in allergic contact dermatitis, which affects more than 10 million patients a year in the United States alone.

The team is pursuing a patent for the antibody.

"We hope our discovery will garner interest from pharmaceutical companies that can help us expand our studies into clinical trials," Lee said. Their goal is to develop a safer treatment for pain and itch as an alternative to opioids, which often cause addiction and other detrimental side effects.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jun-Ho Lee, Chul-Kyu Park, Gang Chen, Qingjian Han, Rou-Gang Xie, Tong Liu, Ru-Rong Ji, Seok-Yong Lee. A Monoclonal Antibody that Targets a NaV1.7 Channel Voltage Sensor for Pain and Itch Relief. Cell, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.03.064

Cite This Page:

Duke University. "One molecule blocks both pain and itch, discovered in mouse study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140522123538.htm>.
Duke University. (2014, May 22). One molecule blocks both pain and itch, discovered in mouse study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140522123538.htm
Duke University. "One molecule blocks both pain and itch, discovered in mouse study." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140522123538.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

AFP (July 24, 2014) America's death penalty debate raged Thursday after it took nearly two hours for Arizona to execute a prisoner who lost a Supreme Court battle challenging the experimental lethal drug cocktail. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins