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Novel approaches to the treatment of chronic pain: translating recent discoveries in painrelated neural plasticity to clinical practice- Na+-channel modulators and subtype-selective GABAA receptor ligands

Applicant Spahn Donat
Number 124117
Funding scheme SPUM
Research institution Institut für Anästhesiologie Universitätsspital Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Neurology, Psychiatry
Start/End 01.06.2009 - 31.05.2012
Approved amount 1'889'040.00
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Keywords (3)

CTU support - Geneva - Zürich - trial sites; chronic pain; pain therapy

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Almost 20 % of adults in Switzerland suffer from chronic pain. In nearly 60 % of cases the pains exist long than two years, and two thirds of those affected are dissatisfied with the pain therapy; on the one hand because of inefficacy and on the other hand because of undesirable side effects. In the meantime, it is established that chronic pain, no matter whether inflammatory or neurologically conditioned, can be perpetuated through changes in the nervous system and are often resistant to classic analgesic medicaments. Pain stimuli are conducted along the peripheral nervous system into the central nervous system with the help of so-called sodium channels. We assume that quantitative and qualitative changes of subtypes of these sodium channels are responsible for the origin and maintenance of pain conditions. Modern anticonvulsive medicaments, which can block unspecific sodium channels, can only be applied on a limited basis on account of their pharmacokinetics and undesirable side effects. New, more specific blockers could be trend-setting for the pain therapy of the future. In the central nervous system, the peripheral pain stimuli are processed and passed on through synaptic transmission. In the event of an over-stimulation, this processing changes and can thus additionally contribute towards maintenance of chronic pain conditions. A mechanism for suppression of this transmission through selective activation of so-called GABAA receptor subunits recently substantiated in the animal model from the Institute of Pharmacology at the University of Zurich could counteract this. Our research project aims to investigate these scientific findings within the scope of translational research up until clinical application. In the course of jointly coordinated studies, our consortium consisting of researchers from the fields of anaesthesiology and pharmacology at the universities and university hospitals from Berne, Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich will analyse new treatment methods, which on the one hand modulate the function of sodium channels in the periphery and on the other hand the transmission to the synapses in the central nervous system. Animal experiments and studies on test subjects will serve as the basis for clinical studies on patients with chronic pain or pain conditioned through nervous disorder.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
140339 Novel approaches to the treatment of chronic pain: translating recent discover-ies in pain-related neural plasticity to clinical practice 01.06.2012 SPUM